Scholarly article on topic 'Pasternak, Łysohorsky and the Significance of “Unheroic” Translation'

Pasternak, Łysohorsky and the Significance of “Unheroic” Translation Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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{"B.L. Pasternak" / "Óndra Łysohorsky" / "Lidiia Pasternak" / Translation / “Podstrochnik” / "Soviet Culture of the 1940s" / "Cold War"}

Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — Susanna Witt

Abstract This article offers an analysis of Boris Pasternak's translation of two poems by the Lachian poet Óndra Łysohorsky (1905–1989), made from “podstrochniki” (interlinears) provided here as an original archival publication together with Łysohorsky's two accompanying letters to Pasternak from 1943. The dual aim of the article is to pinpoint some characteristic traits in Pasternak's work with interlinears and to elucidate the significance of transcultural figures like Łysohorsky in the context of Soviet war-time culture. The translations are also compared to Lidiia Pasternak's English versions of the same poems published in 1968.

Academic research paper on topic "Pasternak, Łysohorsky and the Significance of “Unheroic” Translation"

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Russian Literature LXXVIII (2015) III/IV




This article offers an analysis of Boris Pasternak's translation of two poe ms by the Lachian poet Ondra Lysohorsky (1905-1989), made from "podstrochniki" (inter-linears) provided here as an original archival publication together with Lysohorsky's two accompanying letters to Pasternak from 1943. The dual aim of the article is to pinpoint some characteristic traits in Pasternak's work with interlinears and to elu -cidate the significance of transcultural figures like Lysohorsky in the context of Soviet war-time culture. The translations are also compared to Lidiia Pasternak's English versions of the same poems^ published in 1968.

Keywords: B.L. Pasternak; Ondra Lysohorsky; Lidiia Pasternak; Translation; "Podstrochnik"; Soviet Culture of the 1940s; Cold War

My poetry is humanist poetry. It speaks up for the best in people. At my age, I've had enough of politics. I've been a victim of brown fascism and for years I've been muzzled by red fascism. But a poet has a duty to speak up for humanity and the lasting verities. That's why I never give up. That's why I'm delighted when some man or woman in France or Greece or Japan or in any other corner of the world reads my poems in translation. It's a minor victory! (Ondra Lysohorsky, Gill 1978-1979) 0304-3479/© 2015 The Author. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


The reputation of Boris Pasternak as one of Russia's foremost translators of the last century rests heavily upon his renderings of a series of classics of world literature among which tower his Shakespeare and Goethe. These achievements fit well into a specific mythology of translation during the Soviet era, constituted and upheld among the intelligentsia: that of literary translation as an act of resistance, providing the readership with eternal values presumably embodied in these works as opposed to indigenous products of ideologized official culture (Baer 2010). Typical examples are Lo-zinskij's Dante and Gnedic's Byron. Such a view inscribes translation into a largely binary picture of the culture of the period built on dichotomies such as apologetic/dissident, official/unofficial, inside/outside, etc. However, the vast majority of all translations carried out in Soviet Russia was not of a kind which lends itself to such heroic projections. They were made either from contemporary foreign literary works selected according to some criteria of ideological suitability, or from "the peoples of the USSR" to be included in the Soviet russophone literary canon. In the professional hierarchy of translators only the upper layers could count on commissions of the first, "heroic", kind and they, too, were heavily dependent on less prestigious assignments as well. In fact, a significant share of Pasternak's output during the 1930s-1950s consists of such "unheroic" translations, generally produced not from original texts but frompodstrocniki, Russian interlinear versions. In this article, I will present new archival material illustrating a case of such "unheroic" translation - Pasternak's rendering of poems by Ondra Lysohorsky - and discuss its significance in the context of Soviet war-time culture and its repercussions during the Cold War.

Lysohorsky and His Lachian Project

Ondra Lysohorsky was born in 1905 as Ervin Goj in the town of Frydek on the border between Silesia and Moravia, a part of the Habsburg empire soon to become the Czech republic. Born into a family of "hereditary miners" (Pasternak 1943), he received education in German schools and obtained a doctorate from the German university in Prague in 1928; his doctoral dissertation was devoted to the works of Rainer Maria Rilke (Hajek 1983: 322). Raised in a multilingual environment, Lysohorsky wrote poetry in German as well as in Polish before turning to the project of creating a literary language, "Lachian", based on the dialects of his native region (Hannan 1996). Between 1934 and 1936 Lysohorsky published three collections of verse in this new literary language. The Lachian dialects "are part of a dialect continuum which embraces three spatially contiguous, genetically-related

languages" (Hannan 1996: 730) - Czech, Slovak and Polish. Although Lachian displays features distinguishing each of the standard languages, "the recent development of Lachian is clearly that of a Czech dialect" (733). Lysohorsky, however, never abandoned his views on Lachian's status as an autonomous language and refused to write in Czech even when possibilities to publish in Lachian waned in post-war Czechoslovakia. When later, as a professor at the university of Bratislava, Lysohorsky was required to write in the state language of the republic, he preferred to return instead to the German of his early career (Pasternak 2005: 604).

After the German invasion of the Czech republic in March 1939, Ly-sohorsky decided to emigrate to Britain and travelled to Poland in order to obtain a British entry permit. He was still in the country when war broke out in September and fled east from the Nazi armies, joining a retreating Czechoslovak military unit made up of refugees and émigrés. They were taken prisoners by the Soviet Army which was moving in the opposite direction to claim its share of defeated Poland (Hájek 1983: 320-321). Lysohorsky spent nine months in Soviet internment camps before he was granted permission as a "proletarian writer" to settle in Moscow in the end of 1940 (Gan 1992: 63). He taught Czech at the Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow and later became Head of the Czech Department at the Soviet Army Institute of Foreign Languages. Occasionally, he also lectured at the Gorky literary institute. Between 1942 and his return to Czechoslovakia in 1946, Lysohorsky had four collections of verse published in Russian (Lysohorsky 1942a; 1942b; 1945; 1946) along with various publications in the Soviet press. His translators were well-known authors such as Anna Achmatova, Boris Pasternak, Marina Cvetaeva, Nikolaj Aseev, Samuil Marsak, Aleksej Surkov and Nikolaj Tichonov - but also typical representatives of the second category referred to above, such as the poet-translator Sergej Obradovic.

While at home Lysohorsky's project of culture building had met with objections among many Czech critics (Hannan 1996: 727), in the Soviet context it was resonant with a development which had begun in the early 1930s: the promotion of nationalities literatures and the identification of various "national poets" as emblematic figures to represent them in the Soviet canon.1 Here, Lysohorsky as a Lachian "national poet" acquired a status quite different from that in his native land, even if he, too, was affected by the tensions inherent in this Soviet project between Stalinist nationalities discourse and the latent threat of "bourgeois nationalism". As a lecturer for future Soviet writers at the Gorky institute, Lysohorsky was indeed accused of "nationalism" and reportedly defended by Pasternak and Sklovskij (Pasternak 2005: 603).

As is evident from the letter below, Lysohorsky first met Pasternak at the editorial office of Literaturnaja gazeta in the autumn of 1941. This must

have been before 14 October because on that day Pasternak left Moscow in order to reunite with his family in Cistopol' where they had been evacuated three months earlier (Barnes 1998: 186). For Pasternak, this was a time marked by translation work of both the first and second categories. Before leaving, he published^ translat ions of the Latvian poet Janis Sudrabkalns and the Georgian Simon Cikovani (in Literaturnaja gazeta, 17 September and 15 October, respectively). In evacuation he completed a translation of Romeo and Juliet and poems by the Polish romantic Juliusz Slowacki.

Two Letters from Ondra Lysohorsky to Boris Pasternak

7/IV -1943 г.

Дорогой Борис Пастернак!

Я жил в эвакуации в Ташкенте, откуда вернулся недавно в Москву. Когда вышла моя первая книжка на русском языке, я думал о том, чтобы прислать Вам экземпляр в знак моей любви к Вам и к Ва -шей поэзии. Но я не знал Вашего адреса. Пользуюсь любезностью тов. Суркова, который едет в Чистополь, и Вам передаст эту книгу. Мне очень жалко, что не состоялась наша встреча, о которой мы говорили в редакции "Лит. газеты" осенью 1941 г.

В Ташкенте выходит второй сборник и в Гослитиздате в Москве большой сборник 3000 строчек, где будет главным образом лирическая поэзия. Будут там тоже переводы Ахматовой, Голодного, Луговского. Я был бы очень счастлив, если бы Вам некоторые стихи в моей книге понравились и если бы Вы тоже участвовали в переводческой работе над сборником в Гослитиздате; эти стихи вошли бы тоже в ташкентский сборник.

Очень Вас прошу, дорогой Борис Пастернак, напишите мне свое мнение о книжке и о том, смогли ли бы Вы взять на себя некоторые переводы моих лирических стихов. Я бы Вам прислал и оригиналы и подстрочники (с указанием размера).

От сердца жму Вашу руку.

Ондра Лысогорский

Адрес: Ондра Лысогорский, Москва, гост. "Метрополь" ком. 354. (RGALI. F. 379. Op. 1. Ed. chr. 32. L. 1 )

English translation:2

7 April, 1943 Dear Boris Pasternak!

I have lived in evacuation in Taskent from which I recently returned to Moscow. When my first book in Russian appeared I thought about sending it to you as a token of my love for you and your poetry. But I do not know your address. I am taking advantage of the kindness of com. Surkov who is leaving for Cistopol' and will hand over this book to you. It's a great pity that our meeting, of which we spoke in the autumn of 1941 at the editorial office of Lit. gazeta, did not happen.

In Taskent a second collection is appearing and with Goslitizdat in Moscow a large collection of 3000 lines is on its way including mainly lyrical poetry. There will be translations by Achmatova, Golodnyj, Lugovskoj. I would be very happy if some of the poems in my book would be to your liking and if you also would take part in the trans-lational work with the Goslitizdat collection; these poems would be included in the Taskent collection as well.

I urge you, my dear Boris Pasternak, please write to me about your opinion of the book and also if you are able to undertake some translations of my lyrical verse. I would send you the originals and interlinear translations (with instructions regarding the metre).

From all of my heart,

Ondra Lysogorskij

Address: Ondra Lysogorskij, Moscow, Hotel Metropol, room 354.

30/V -43 г.

Дорогой Борис Пастернак!

Это письмо я Вам отправил с Алексеем Сурковым, но вот беда -случилось так, что он забыл корреспонденции дома. Теперь пользуюсь возможностью послать через т. Петровых. Посылаю Вам также несколько подстрочников. Может быть заинтересуетесь. Также оригиналы.*)

Очень жду Ваш приезд в Москву. Будет теплее и светлее у меня на сердце.

Крепко жму руку. Ваш Ондра Лысогорский

*) P.S. Ударение в ляшском языке на предпоследнем слоге как в польском языке. У каждой первой строфы я дал ритмическую схему. А в общем размер выбирайте свободно, также рифмы. (RGALI. F. 379. Op. 1. Ed. chr. 32. L. 1. Verso)

English translation:

30 May, 1943 Dear Boris Pasternak!

I sent you this letter with Aleksej Surkov, but unfortunately it happened so that he forgot the correspondence at home. Now I take the opportunity to send it with com. Petrovych. I also send you some inter-linears. Maybe you will be interested. And also the originals.*)

I am eagerly awaiting your arrival here in Moscow. My heart will be brighter and warmer.

Firmly shaking your hand


Ondra Lysogorskij.

*) P.S. Stress in the Lachian language falls on the penultimate syllable, as in Polish. For each of the first stanzas I have provided a rhythmical scheme. But generally, please feel free to choose the metre as well as the rhymes.

The interlinear translations mentioned in the letter were made by Lysohorsky's "Moscow wife" Nina Sokolova (Gan 1992: 61), probably in close collaboration with the poet. Whether out of economic necessity or genuine interest, Pasternak obviously began to work with Lysohorsky's material pretty soon. His efforts resulted in the publication of five poems in Literatura i iskusstvo5 on 21 August, 1943, eight poems in Lysohorsky's collection Pesni o solnce i zemle (Lysohorsky 1945; issued not in Taskent as mentioned in the letter, but in Moscow) and ten poems in Stichotvorenija (1946).6 The publication in Literatura i iskusstvo was prefaced by a short introduction entitled 'Slavjanskij poet' ('A Slav Poet') in which Pasternak, in addition to some biographical information, explained his affinity with Lysohorsky:

С Лысогорским меня сближает общность поэтических привязанностей и испытанных влияний. Мне в нем дорог крупный современный поэт с интересными мыслями и незаурядным живописным

вкусом. На нескольких примерах, нарочно для этого переведенных, я хочу дать о нем некоторое понятие. (Pasternak 1943)

What brings me close to Lysohorsky are the influences we both underwent and our common poetic attachments. He is dear to me as an outstanding contemporary poet with interesting thoughts and with an unusual artistic taste reminiscent of that of a painter. I want to give some notion of him through a few of his poems, which I have translated expressly for this purpose. (Pasternak 1968: 11)

The English version of the note provided here belongs to Pasternak's sister Lidija who in 1968 collaborated with a small literary periodical in Oxford, Informer: International poetry magazine. The journal, edited by Keith Armstrong and David Gill, dedicated its 8th issue of that year almost exclusively to the poetry of Ondra Lysohorsky, "the Mistral of Silesia", who was "among those who have suffered under the misdirected enthusiasms of the past" (McKinley 1968). The invasion of Czechoslovakia on 21 August, 1968 and the subsequent "normalization" politics had put a definite end to Lysohorsky's hopes for a change in official views on his works, "banned on the grounds that being written in the provincial language of Lachian, they were an affront to the pure, monolithic structure of the people and the official 'line', and were an attempt at deviationism" (ibid). Informer featured seven translations by Lidija Pasternak (presented as "sister of Boris Pasternak, but a VERY good poet in her own right"),8 seven by Hugh McKinley and nine by Ewald Osers.9 Two of the poems translated by Lidija Pasternak, 'The Vegetable Market in Ostrava' and 'Ponds of Hrusov' were among the ones sent by Lysohorsky to Pasternak in May 1943.10 Thus, we have access to these poems in three versions: the original, Sokolova/Lysohorsky's pod-strocnik translation, Pasternak's Russian rendering and Lidija Pasternak's English version.

Poetics of "Podstrocniki"

The podstrocnik (the interlinear) was a textual phenomenon with a paradoxical mode of existence. One of the most important and widespread text types in Soviet culture, it was still never published, yet attentively read and interpreted by hundreds of women and men of letters throughout the Soviet period - both poet-translators and editors. Part and parcel of the official system of Soviet literature, it in fact enabled this very literature to emerge as a multinational entity. In view of the large number of languages spoken within the USSR and the lack of according linguistic competence among translators, interlinears were accepted as a necessary aid in most translations

from the non-Russian literatures of the Union. Debated and condemned "in principle" from the early 1930s, the podstrocnik practice prospered throughout the Soviet period (Witt 2013b). It was quite common also in translations from literatures located outside the USSR, not only from distant languages such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese, but also from European ones such as Hungarian and even some Slavic languages.11

Due to the anonymity of podstrocnik-makers, the lack of contact between them, the original writer and the final translator (a rule rather than an exception), and the sheer volume of such mediated translation, the practice opened up a range of possibilities for manipulation and falsification. As there were strong economic incentives for non-Russian authors to be published in Russian and thus enter the Soviet literary system on its all-union level, all kind of inventive strategies were applied: authors as well as translators could produce Russian interlinears without any original texts whatsoever, thus in actual fact turning the podstrocnik into an original genre (Witt 2011; 2013b). Even under "normal" production circumstances the insufficient communication between the agents involved and the low quality of the intermediary texts were often defining factors for such translation, which has been euphemistically referred to as "translations of the new type" (an expression coined by poet-translator Semen Lipkin). The collaboration between Lysohorsky and Pasternak, however, was not representative in this sense since it involved both a personal contact and genuine original texts by a poet already well-published in the original language as well as in Russian.

As argued by Michail Gasparov, the theoretical interest represented by podstrocnik translation is significant. Such translation presents the literary scholar with unique possibilities of observing aspects pertaining to form and content, respectively, "separated from one other":

The translation process consists of two stages: understanding and design (oformlenie). They are usually hard to separate in an analysis: if we observe something in a translation which represents a divergence from the original, we are still generally unable to tell whether the translator saw something more (or less) in the words of the original than we do, or if he saw the same as we do, but was unable (or didn't want) to put what he saw into the lines of the translation. When you translate with the help of podstrocnik these stages are separated: the understanding of the [original] text is given wholly by the podstrocnik, while the design (oformlenie) is taken on by the translator. A divergence from the letter of the original may be explained by the translator as his "penetration into the soul" of the original text; a divergence from the podstrocnik can by no means be a "penetration into the soul", it can only be "from the evil one", only a liberty on part of the translator. (Gasparov 2001: 361)

Drawing on Gasparov's categories, the following analysis will pay specific attention to the "idea" (zamysel) of the text as "embodied" in So-kolova/Lysohorsky's interlinear in its relation to Pasternak's design (oformle-nie) in order to "move towards the point of their non-coincidence" (ibid). Simultaneously, Lidija Pasternak's English translations will be examined with an eye to their possible source: were they indeed made from "the Lachian" as indicated in the journal, or were they produced from Pasternak's (already mediated) translation? Since the podstrocnik follows Lysohorsky's original text very closely, sometimes even violating idiomatic Russian, the Lachian originals are not provided here for reasons of space. The first poem, 'Hrusowske rybniky', was accompanied by a footnote explaining: "Грушев -индустриальный город в Ляшском крае в Чехословакии" ("Grusev is an industrial city in the Lach region of Czechoslovakia").

Lysohorsky's/Nina Sokolova's podstrocnik:

Ондра Лысогорский Грушевские пруды (подстрочник) 5-ст. ямб Рифмы женские мужские женские мужские

Улыбка чистоты в складках вечной грязи, Горячего тела холодное дыхание. В зеркало вечности ныряют часы, В источник тишины - рокот далеких эх.

Дикий гусь волнисто вспахивает Воду, как во сне пастельную тень. В скользящих контурах берег вибрирует, Серебряным оттенком греет синее лоно.

Над оврагом зреет полное дыхание малины,

Где вода монотонно журчит в заплескевелых желобках.

Стрекоза зашелестела сновиденьями камышей,

Сейчас она спит и все снит свой сон.

(RGALI. F. 379. Op. 1. Ed. chr. 32. L. 7)

Pasternak's translation:

Грушевксие пруды

В грязи блестит, посмеиваясь, пруд Холодным зеркалом горящей глaди. Стоят часы и звука эхо ждут, Молчащего поблизости в засаде.

И дикий гусь в двоящихся кругах, Волну, как краску лишнюю смывая, С трудом плывет, превозмогая страх, Что никогда не доплывет до края.

В овраге тень, малиновый квасок, И плеск и плесень по краям плотины, И сонный шорох спутанных осок, Задетых синей спинкой стрекозиной. (Pasternak 1943)

Lidija Pasternak's translation:

Ponds of Hrusov

Ponds, - cleansing smiles in drab and dirty regions. Cool breath in burning fever. Fast asleep The hours dream in mirrored skies, and stillness contains the rumbling echo of the deep.

A lone wild goose whirls up the placid waters And pastel-shadowed, drowsy circles sway. The midday sun glows in the yellow rushes, And silver stains the blueness of the day.

The bushy banks breathe raspberries' full fragrance: From mouldy leads some lazy droplets seep; A dragonfly disturbs the reeds in slumber, Then joins them, too, in all-pervading sleep. (Lysohorsky 1968)

Lysohorsky's/Sokolova's podstrocnik differs favourably from many of the intermediate texts produced and used within the Soviet literary system. These were not unfrequently carried out by random people without any literary schooling who were drawn into the business solely on the grounds that they were native speakers - a persistent source of complaints within the translators' organization (Witt 2013b). Lysohorsky/Sokolova, in contrast, take pains to indicate the metre (five-foot iamb) as well as the rhyme pattern: feminine, masculine, feminine, masculine. Moreover, in the originals each of

the first stanzas are provided with a rhythmical scheme, as explained in the letter above.

What is the "idea", then, of Lysohorsky's poem 'Grusevskie prudy' as it emerges in the podstrocnik? The footnote provided by the author turns out to be important for the reading: the polluted, industrial landscape makes up a cognitive framework which helps to conceptualize the contrasts of the first stanza - dirty/clean, hot/cold, noisy/silent, temporary/eternal - as well as the metaphors of the smile, the breathing, the mirror and the spring. The following two stanzas are snapshots which develop and concretize the visual, audial and sensory metaphors of the first, zooming in on various details - a goose, a dragonfly - located on and around the water. The word "pond" is never mentioned in the poem. Rather, the poem itself functions as a riddle, the solution to which is given in the title: 'The Ponds of Grusev'. The telling of riddles is built on the technique of estranging a common phenomenon in order to puzzle one's interlocutor. The poetic significance of the device may be to bring about a change of perspective presumably leading to a fresh view on things, something akin to Pasternak's own experiments with displaced perspectives in his earlier poetry, for example in the poem 'Zerkalo' (and of course suggesting the formalist notion of ostranenie). This seems to be "the idea" of Lysohorsky's poem: by estranging the landscape he draws the reader's attention to the paradoxical beauty of the industrial setting.

According to Michail Gasparov, the task of the final translator is to give new shape to the "idea" mediated by the podstrocnik. How does Pasternak's translation relate to this postulate? The most striking divergence from the text of the interlinear is found in the first line of the translation: here, in rhyming position, the word "пруд" (pond) is introduced already in the beginning of the poem. Thereby Pasternak changes the entire mode of perception. The enigmatic opening of Lysohorsky's poem is demystified, the riddle revealed almost before it was pronounced. Furthermore, the sophisticated play with perspectives in the second stanza of the podstrocnik is abandoned by Pasternak for a more straightforward narrative line. While Lysohorsky turns from the wild goose "ploughing" the water to focus on the effects of this movement on the water surface which is reflecting the contours of the shore, Pasternak continues to follow the (anthropomorphized) goose until the end of the stanza. The two concluding lines do not have any correspondence in the source text, constituting what in Russian professional jargon is called "отсебятина" (adlibbing).

Lidija Pasternak, in her translation, begins the poem with the word "ponds" and thus opts for the same shift in modality as her brother. This may suggest that she used his translation as source text, especially as she also translated the introduction to the publication in Literatura i iskusstvo, 'A Slav Poet'. At closer examination, however, her translation reveals several appro -ximations to the original (and Lysohorsky's/Sokolova's podstrocnik). She

does not follow Pasternak's divergent lines about the goose in the second stanza and in the last stanza she keeps significantly closer to Lysohorsky than Pasternak.

Lysohorsky's /Nina Sokolova's podstrocnik:

Ондра Лысогорский

Рынок зелени в Остраве (подстрочник)

Рифмы женские

В сажу залетел платок пестрый

И там застрял, хотя ветер в нем мечется.

В лучах солнца башня островерхая

Из под жестяного шлема подкарауливает дико.

Расползается платок - трамваи трезвонят -Его краски муравьи растаскивают (уносят) Туда, где черные трубы уже давно не дымят, Где окна решетчатые в небо косятся.

Прекращается дикое метанье. Что осталось от платка - изящного, В кучу смeтено и замусорено. Сажа падает на рынок глубокий. (RGALI. F. 379. Op. 1. Ed. chr. 32. L. 9)

Pasternak's translation:

Зеленной рынок в Остраве

Пестрый платок очутился средь сажи. Ветер играет им, как огнем. С камня посматривает на пряжу Башня подслеповатым окном.

Пряжу растаскивают по шерстинки. Рыщут трамваи, как муравьи, Пусто становится к полдню на рынке. Фабрики пялят трубы свои.

Пусто на рынке после привоза. С полдня кончается кутерьма.

Мусор капустный, мятые розы И от платка одна бахрома. (Pasternak 1943)

Lidija Pasternak's translation:

The Vegetable Market in Ostrava

Down, into the soot, a gay kerchief, aflutter,

has droppped and got caught, though the wind there is frantic.

The spiky old tower in sparkling sunshine

Savagely watches the kerchief's antics.

'Mid tram-bells the ants drag the scarf's multicoloured Bright separate wool shreds to places of squalor, Where smoke is not rising from factory chimneys, Where skywards are staring dark, iron barred windows.

The riot of colours now fades; no more tempting, By noon the torn bits of the kerchief, the rotten Remains are swept up by the wind and forgotten, Soot fills the deep market square, silent and empty. (Lysohorsky 1968)

Like the previous piece, Lysohorsky's poem about the vegetable market in Ostrava builds on visual contrast provided by an industrial setting, this time between "blackness" and "colour". It also displays a strategy of estrangement similar to that of 'Grusevskie prudy'. In this case, however, the riddle presented by the poem is solved within the confines of the text: in the last line, the "protagonist" - the multicoloured kerchief - is identified with the marketplace itself. Simultaneously, the epithet "глубокий" (deep), which might seem an odd choice for the marketplace, is justified as it introduces a vertical perspective: it is "deep" from the point of view of an observer presumably located somewhere high up and looking down on the city. From this vantage point the market square emerges as something of a pointillist painting (we may recall Pasternak's words about Lysohorsky's "unusual artistic taste reminiscent of that of a painter"). This epiphanic moment in the concluding line prompts a rereading of the poem. Now it becomes clear that the description is not metonymic - it is not about a displaced detail of somebody's outfit - but rather metaphoric. The narrative reveals a second layer which tells another story. The "idea" of this poem is arguably to promote a circular reading with constantly shifting perspectives. This is also suggested by the semantic ring composition: "В сажу залетел платок пестрый [...] Сажа падает на рынок глубокий."

In Pasternak's translation, a notable divergence from the podstrocnik is the changing designation of the protagonist in the first stanza. Introduced as "пестрый платок" (multicoloured kerchief) in the first line, it is referred to in the third line as "пряжа" (wollen yarn), a metonymic substitution which blurs its identity. By focusing on the constituent rather than the kerchief, Pasternak anticipates its disintegration as described in the next stanza. While Lysohorsky develops one and the same metaphor throughout the poem, Pasternak retains "пряжа" in the second stanza to shift back to "платок" only in the last. Lysohorsky's central image of ants dragging away the colours of the kerchief - people carrying away the fruit and vegetables from the market place at closing time - is not conveyed in Pasternak's rendering: "The yarn is dragged apart by the thread. / Streetcars roam like ants." This picture is certainly more difficult to visualize than Lysohorsky's disintegrating pointillist painting. The most significant break with Lysohorsky's "idea" as embodied in the podstrocnik, however, is Pasternak's relocation of the moment of epiphany from the end to the second stanza: "By noon it becomes empty in the marketplace." "Рынок" is repeated in the first line of the last stanza, but without the epithet which suggests a vertical perspective. In translation, there is no need to reread the poem and its ring composition is also not sustained.

Lidija Pasternak's version, in contrast, follows Lysohorsky (original and podstrocnik) quite closely in details as well as in the "idea", revealing the theme of the poem accordingly in the last line and retaining the epithet "deep" for the market square. Some coincidence with Boris Pasternak's translation may still be noted. The protagonist is referred to variously both as a "kerchief" (in the first and last stanza) and as a "scarf" (in the second) which is being torn apart by its "separate wool threads". While these may evoke the "yarn" of Boris Pasternak's version, Lidija Pasternak thoroughly conveys the image of ants dragging the coloured pieces apart. A point of convergence between the two translations is the indication of time, "by noon" which is mentioned twice by Boris Pasternak (stanza two and three) and once by Lidija Pasternak (stanza three), while totally absent from the podstrocnik. But most importantly, Lidija Pasternak's rendering of the poem preserves the impulse to rereading as well as the semantic ring composition.

Characterizing another of Lysohorsky's translators, Marina Cvetaeva, Maria Khotimsky notices that for her, "the impulse in translating is to seek out the poetic 'essence' of the original text against the odds of working with crude interlinear trots" (2013: 576). Pasternak's translation of Lysohorsky's poems 'Hrusewske rybniky' and 'Zelenimowy terh v Ostrawe' made from podstrocniki does not give reason to assume that the same holds true for Pasternak in these particular cases, at least not if the "essence" is defined as the "idea" proposed in the analysis above and partly corresponding to Lidija Pasternak's understanding in her later translations of the same poems.

Khotimsky shows that Cvetaeva, when translating Lysohorsky, often alters the intonation and imagery, lending dominance to her own poetic voice over the original text (2013: 582-585).12 Pasternak did not have to violate the diction of Lysohorsky who, as declared in his letter above, was an admirer of Pasternak's own poetry and even dedicated the poem 'Venecianskie mosty' ('Venetian Bridges') to him. Lysohorsky's themes and vocabulary not infrequently reminds the reader of Pasternak's original poetry. It is noteworthy that Pasternak, perhaps struck by an anxiety of "backward influence", did not (or not fully) convey the estrangements above which recall his own play with perspectives and displaced vision.


If, as Michail Gasparov argues, "a divergence from the podstrocnik can by no means be a 'penetration into the soul', it can only be 'from the evil one', only a liberty on part of the translator" (2001: 261), does this mean that Paster -nak's translations of Óndra Lysohorsky as analysed above (and regardless of their other poetic qualities) are to be judged a failure? This question must be put in a larger context, a context fraught with paradoxes. To translate the poetry of Óndra Lysohorsky may seem paradoxical from the outset. If Lysohorsky's poetic project aimed at creating a Lachian literary language, then the raison d'etre of his verse was to be written in Lachian. This ontological parameter would make it untranslatable. On the other hand, to translate from a language means to confirm and strengthen its status as a literary language. With translators such as Pasternak, Cvetaeva, Aseev and Marsak, Lysohorsky's collection Pesni o solnce i zemle, prefaced by Viktor Sklovskij and with a printrun of 50,000 copies, paradoxically established Lachian as a literary language more firmly than any original publication, regardless of its merits, would have done.13 On an international level, volumes featuring translations by W.H. Auden functioned in the same way (Lysohorsky 1971; 1976). In the Collected Works of Pasternak, Lysohorsky figures side by side with their common enchantment Rilke under the heading "Translations from Western poetry" (Pasternak 2005).

Through his singular form of local patriotism Lysohorsky - paradoxically - becomes a figure who embodies the "cosmopolitan" and "internationalist" spirit of the Soviet 1930s and early 1940s as described by Katerina Clark (2011). Networks and relationships established in editorial offices and publishing houses of the time between such transcultural figures and Russian poets-turned-translators contributed to forms of culture which have received little attention so far. Its products may not enter the grand history of Russian literature but its workings are unpredictable and therefore significant. As

demonstrated by Pasternak's "unheroic" translation of Lysohorsky, such networks could expand to bridge even Cold War demarcations.

Soviet nationalities policies seem to have been an inspiration to Lysohorsky from the very beginning of his project: "In a postscript to his first published book the author argued that Lachian was in fact not a dialect but a full-fledged language. He also expressed his belief that the Lachian nation would soon experience its renaissance, basing his trust in its future on the solution of national problems in the USSR, where even small tribes were being accorded an opportunity to develop their cultural heritages, including the language" (Hájek 1983: 317-318).

All translations in this article are mine (S.W.) if not otherwise indicated. The writer Aleksej Surkov (1899-1983) was at the time a war correspondent for several Soviet army newspapers and was probably going to see his wife and daughter who were evacuated in Cistopol' as well. Marija Petrovych (1908-1979) was a poet-translator particularly involved with translation of Armenian and Polish poetry. In Cistopol', Pasternak for the first time heard her original poetry which made a deep impression (Barnes 1998: 189).

Literatura i iskusstvo was a temporary renaming of Literaturnaja gazeta from January 1942 to November 1944. The five poems published here were 'Po-slednee srazenie' ('The Last Fight'), 'Chranitel' zizni' ('Preserver of Life'), 'Prevrascenie' ('Transformation'), 'Zelennoj rynok v Ostrave' ('The Vegetable Market in Ostrava') and 'Grusevskie prudy' ('Ponds of Hrusov'). The publications were partly overlapping; Pasternak translated a total of eleven of Lysohorsky's poems.

A slightly longer version of this text is included in Pasternak (1991) and Pasternak (2004). The commentators explain that by "the influences we both underwent and our common poetic attachments" Pasternak had in mind Rainer Maria Rilke, admired by both poets.

These were: 'The Vegetable Market in Ostrava', 'Ponds of Hrusov', 'Venetian Bridges (For Boris Pasternak)', 'Beethoven in the Desert', 'Summer', 'Room in Taskent', 'Dragonfly in Autumn', 'By the Open Window', 'In the Ukraine - For Alexander Dovzhenko', 'Mahatma Gandhi'. Since one of the poems was about Jan Palach, the student who burnt himself to death in protest against the Soviet invasion, the issue, although carrying the year 1968, must have appeared after mid-January 1969 as Palach's action took place on 16 January.

The archival holdings (RGALI. F. 379. Op. 1. Ed. chr. 32) comprise Lyso-horsky's handwritten poems 'Swetly hfeben' (original), 'Svetlyj greben" (interlinear), 'Za Taskentem' (original), 'Za Taskentom' (interlinear), 'Hru-sowske rybniky' (original), 'Grusevskie prudy' (interlinear), 'Zelenimowy terh v Ostrawe' (original), 'Rynok zeleni v Ostrave' (interlinear), and 'Slo-necnik' (original) and also two of Pasternak's very rough drafts to the translation of 'Grusevskie prudy'.

The last case was especially disputed: in his speech at the annual meeting of the Translators' Section of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1950, Aleksej Surkov complained: "Why is it that people are afraid of translating French, English or German literature by way of podstrocnik, and if they do they are condemned [...] But here we are offending our most intimate friends, translating in a secondary manner by way of podstrocnik from the brotherly literature of our peoples and from the languages of the peoples' democracies? This is very bad. The Bulgarian anthology from a podstrocnik [.] this is very bad" (RGALI. F. 631. Op. 14. Ed. chr. 88. L. 8).

Khotimsky does not analyse Cvetaeva's translation in relation to its source text, the podstrocnik, as she notices "there is no record about the quality of the interlinear translations that Cvetaeva had to work with". We may assume, however, that they, too, were produced by Nina Sokolova, presumably in close collaboration with Lysohorsky.

To establish Lachian as a source language seems to have been the task of Lysohorsky's life: "For a long time now, Lysohorsky has been a tireless promoter of his work, perhaps he found in this activity some compensation for his frustrated ambitions at home. He has used his command of foreign languages to establish contacts with poets, translators, and publishers in other countries and presumably to supply them with verbatim translations of his poems. The names of people to whom they are inscribed would make up an anthology of modern world poetry" (Hajek 1983: 330).


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