Prefaces in Soviet translations of Robert Burns’s poetry as ideological tools

Natalia Kaloh Vid

This article focuses on the ideological content and function of the prefaces that accompany the translations of foreign literature made in the Soviet Union. The aim of the article is to demonstrate how these translations use paratexts to comply with the target system’s ideological constraints. It shows how the ways in which the Soviet authorities used paratexts to manipulate representations of the author of the source text and the text itself reflect the power structures within the target system. The empirical investigation draws on a close lexical analysis of ideologemes in two prefaces that accompanied Soviet translations of Robert Burns’s poetry.

Publication history
Table of contents

According to Lefevere (1992, 13), a translation is “an act carried out under the influence of particular categories and norms constituent to systems in a society. The most important of these are patronage, ideology, poetics, and ‘the universe of discourse’.” Thus, translation is considered to be an act of rewriting an original text to serve a certain purpose, which is determined by the cultural constraints of the receiving culture (Lefevere 1992). Similarly, Toury (1995, 29) defines translations as “facts of a target culture,” and explains that

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