Soviet Translations of Latin American Literature, 1956–1991
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Soviet Translations of Latin American Literature, 1956–1991


This dissertation is a study of the translation and publication of Latin American literature in the post-Stalin era Soviet Union. During the Thaw, the Soviet cultural authorities sought to use literary translation for propagandistic purposes, targeting Latin America as the latest front to emerge in the Cold War. State publishing houses embarked on a massive undertaking to publish a representative canon of contemporary Latin American writing in Russian translation. This canon expanded to include a diverse range of writers whose political and aesthetic positions increasingly diverged from official Soviet values. I examine how the translators, editors, critics, and party officials on the front lines of this encounter mediated between the state’s ideological demands and their own personal motivations to domesticate Latin American novels for the mass reader. In doing so, I analyze translators’ strategies in grappling with these novels’ modernist content as well as the crucial role of literary criticism in imposing interpretations that sanctioned their entry into the shifting boundaries of the post-Stalin literary environment. Chapter One presents an overview of the Soviet reception of Latin American literature from its origins in the proletarian internationalist movement of the 1930s through to its flourishing in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. I provide a detailed account of the state publishing industry, the official censorship apparatus, and the development of translation methods and literary criticism in the post-Stalin era. Chapter Two examines the reception of the writer Miguel �ngel Asturias as emblematic of the growing focus on Third-World liberation struggles in official rhetoric during the Thaw. In Chapter Three, I discuss the Soviet encounter with the Latin American “Boom” by focusing on the Russian translation (1965) of one of its key texts, the novel La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1963) by Carlos Fuentes. In Chapter Four, I analyze the troubled publication history of the Russian translation (1970) of Juan Rulfo’s novel Pedro P�ramo (1955) and reconstruct the internal negotiations over how to translate and present the text to readers. The concluding chapter discusses the end of the Soviet translation industry and its consequences for Latin American literature in Russian today.

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