This post centers around points of emphasis and questions that my AT group had when we read two differing translation on Akhmatova. I have expanded this post to show how it relates to my theme. I expanded this post to talk about how censorship in the Soviet Union affected poets like Akhmatova. (If you want to read more about translation, read my research paper).

Anna Akhmatova

Akhmatova – Our AT group discussed the two translations in terms of the translation panel earlier in the year. We noticed that Thomas’s translation appeared to be more brief and less wordy as apposed to Anderson’s translation. During the translation panel, we remembered that Prof. Denham pointed out two types of translation; a more word for word translation where accuracy in translation is prioritized and a more stylistic translation that adapts the words into the language it is being translated into to preserve the mood, rhythm, etc. We felt that the Thomas translation fell more into this stylistic translation due to the brevity and better flow when reading the poems. Anderson we felt was more word for word because the meaning was clearer however some lines were longer and clunkier. This can be see here:

Thomas: “The mountains bow before this anguish”

Anderson: ” A grief so great would lay a mountain low “

These quotes are both translating the same line of one of Akhmatova’s poems, however, you can see how their translation styles differ. Anderson’s is clunkier but the meaning is clear about the grief experienced. Thomas uses more of a personification of the grief to get his point across. To our AT group, we preferred Thomas’s more stylistic approach to translation because it was more enjoyable to read.

? – Why did Stalin decide that Mayakovsky was to be considered the most important poet of the Soviet Age, when Mayakovsky killed himself because of the constraints on freedom of the press imposed by the Soviet regime?

! – What I found to be most interesting from the lecture was Akhmatova and how she didn’t leave the USSR even being a part of the previous bourgeois. I was really surprised by how outspoken she was towards those who did choose to flee the USSR. Her poetry was rallying for the people of the Soviet Union especially women. The fact only her husband was arrested for fear of her becoming martyr was another fact that jumped out at me while I was re watching the lecture.

Throughout this Unit we discussed censorship and how the Stalin regime suppressed any form of literature, art, or speech that spoke out against his regime. Stalin knew the power of the press and art and how it could persuade the masses to overthrow his regime. What effect did his censorship have on the artist and writers of the time? In Unit 7, we explored a couple different writers of the time including Mayakovsky, Ahkmatova, and Chukovskaia. Both Ahkmatova and Chukovskaia wrote Requiem and Sofia Petrovna respectively, both of which were critical of Stalin and his reign of terror. The strict rules of censorship could have had either author put to death if it was discovered what they were writing. In essence, these authors were risking their lives to write down their experience. However, both authors felt compelled to write even though they wouldn’t see the publication of their works until much later. In the case of Sofia Petrovna, it wasn’t until 1988 almost 50 years later before it was published in Russia. Another poet we analyzed was Mayakovsky, who was referenced earlier in this post. Stalin had complete control of the press so he decided Mayakovsky’s work was to be consider of the highest quality throughout the USSR. Mayakovsky later killed himself due to the lack of the freedom of press in the USSR. What all does this tell us about Censorship and language?

Censorship is a way in which language can be manipulated. The ruling power had the ability to control which authors were published and which weren’t. They had complete control over the narrative of a country. Stalin was able to make sure the generation was raised without any information about previous eras and sheltered from any of the atrocities of the Great Purge. Language and literature is knowledge when the status quo has control over information the government can say anything and the people have no other choice but to go along with it. In this way, the narrative of a country is manipulated because only opinion is being represented.