Translation theory and cold war politics
This chapter explores the relationship between politics and translation theory in the evolution of the theoretical positions of two of the most influential “agents of translation” in the postwar years, Roman Jakobson and Vladimir Nabokov. Within the rarefied atmosphere of Cold War America, the author traces the polarization of the translation positions of these men, exiles from Soviet Russia, who both engaged in literary translation and contemplated translation as a phenomenon. This polarization played itself out in the context of a proposed joint translation project of the Russia Medieval epic <i>Slovo o polku Igoreve</i> [The Lay of Igor’s Campaign], the authenticity of which was something of a cause célèbre in émigré circles of the time. The relationship between these two enormously talented individuals raises important questions regarding translation and politics, translation and exile, the agency of the translator, the connection of theory to history, and the very identity of the literary text, which are still relevant today.