1887
Volume 51, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0521-9744
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9668
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Abstract

AbstractVasily Zhukovsky’s 1802 translation of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, highly acclaimed in its time and since regarded as a crucial document for the study of Russian Romanticism, offers the reader of Gray an original but compelling approach to his most famous poem. Although generally faithful to the form and style of the English, Zhukovsky’s version nevertheless forecloses some possibilities of Gray’s poetic argument while creating others. By darkening the descriptive texture of the elegy, adding two crucial stanzas that weigh the significance of graveyard memorials, and reconceiving the figure of the narrator in relation to his environment, Zhukovsky concentrates the force of Gray’s most universal concerns. This is especially evident in the stanzas that reflect on the “frail memorial” to the village dead. Dispensing altogether with Gray’s “unlettered muse” and “rustic moralist,” Zhukovsky applies the moral of the gravestone to the reader: “we must learn to die.” Whereas this passage in Gray’s poem distinguishes the villagers, identified with what is “uncouth,” “unlettered,” and “rustic,” the corresponding passage in translation represses the distinguishing marks of rusticity, assimilates the argument of the stanzas to the general human condition, and thus concludes by invoking the collective pronoun. This passage in turn anticipates the epitaph, which is cast in strikingly Biblical language: the passersby are asked to pray over the grave of one now removed from all earthly anxiety, of one who has left behind all that within him is sinful, of one whose hope now is in his savior God. Zhukovsky thus transforms the grave from a “dread abode” into a place of refuge and establishes through his translation of Gray a model for Russian elegiac poetry.RésuméLa traduction du poeme de Th omas Gray, Elegie ecrite dans un cimetiere de campagne, faite par Vassily Zhukovsky en 1802, unanimement saluee en son temps et depuis lors consideree comme un texte primordial a l’etude du romantisme russe, offre au lecteur de Gray une approche a la fois originale et attirante pour la lecture de son plus celebre poeme. Bien que generalement fidele et a la forme et au style originel, la version de Zhukovsky saisit neanmoins certaines nuances du debat poetique de Gray tout en en creant d’autres. En voilant la structure descriptive, en ajoutant deux strophes essentielles qui renforcent la signification des monuments funeraires, et en recreant le personnage du narrateur en fonction de son environnement, Zhukovsky concentre la puissance des preoccupations les plus repandues chez Gray. Cela est tout particulierement evident dans les strophes dont la reflection porte sur les fragiles monuments aux morts du village. Zhukovsky, rendant superflu la muse illettree et le moraliste rustique de Gray, applique la morale de la pierre tombale au lecteur: il nous faut apprendre a mourir. Tandis que ce passage particulier du poeme de Gray caracterise les villageois, les identifiant par ce qui est rude, illettre, et rustique, le passage qui lui correspond dans la traduction assimile l’argument des strophes a la condition humaine en general, concluant ainsi par l’invocation du pronom collectif. Ce passage precede a son tour l’epitaphe redige dans une langue etonnamment biblique: les passants sont invites a prier sur la tombe de celui qui est dorenavant depourvu de toute angoisse terrestre, de celui qui laissa derriere lui tout ce qui, en lui, etait peche, et dont l’espoir desormais reside dans son Dieu Sauveur. Zhukovsky transforme ainsi la tombe d’une demeure redoutable en un lieu de refuge et cree, par le biais de sa traduction du poeme de Gray, un modele pour la poesie elegiaque russe.
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/content/journals/10.1075/babel.51.1.04gar
2005-01-01
2019-10-18
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References

http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1075/babel.51.1.04gar
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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