(Re)translating Horace into Ukrainian Modernity: From Mykola Zerov to Andrii Sodomora

  • Lada Kolomiyets Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Abstract

This article focuses on the history of translations and the reasons for translating the Roman classics into Ukrainian in the late twentieth to early twenty-first centuries, as illustrated by the case of Horace. Translation practices, as well as the socio-cultural status and habitus of the translator-classicist, have been varied but have intersected in many respects throughout the twentieth century. This article highlights the major developments in the approach to translating Horace throughout the twentieth century. It mostly focuses on the attitudes and strategies of Mykola Zerov and Andrii Sodomora, who are among the key figures in the twentieth-century theory and practice of translation in Ukraine. The first major development comprises the critical debate regarding translation in the 1920s initiated by Mykola Khvyl'ovyi, whose position was supported by Zerov. The article discusses both the translation practice of Zerov and his reader-oriented theory of verse translation. The second crucial point consists of the revision by Sodomora, starting from the 1980s, of a paraphrasing strategy worked out by Zerov. In his retranslation strategy, applied to his earlier translations from Horace and substantiated in his literary essays, Sodomora exhibits a positive reconsideration of the role and importance of literalist precision in translating the Roman classics, as exemplified by Horace. Sodomora’s evolving approach toward higher precision in translating the classics stems from a close reading of the authentic cultural contexts, structural poetics, philosophical messages, and hidden intertextuality of the source texts. Also, it resonates with Walter Benjamin’s model of literalism, which in many respects appears useful when applied to post-Soviet literary conditions in Ukraine.

Published
2019-10-21