From governesses with supernatural powers to motor-car obsessed amphibians, the iconic images of English children's literature helped shape the view of the nation around the world. But, as Translating England into Russian: The Politics of Children's Literature in the Soviet Union and Modern Russia (Bloomsbury, 2021) reveals, Russian translators did not always present the same picture of Englishness that had been painted by authors.
In this book, Elena Goodwin explores Russian translations of classic English children's literature, considering how representations of Englishness depended on state ideology and reflected the shifting nature of Russia's political and cultural climate. As Soviet censorship policy imposed restrictions on what and how to translate, this book examines how translation dealt with and built bridges between cultures in a restricted environment in order to represent images of England.
Through analyzing the Soviet and post-Soviet translations of Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie, A. A. Milne and P. L. Travers, this book connects the concepts of society, ideology and translation to trace the role of translation through a time of transformation in Russian society. Making use of previously unpublished archival material, Goodwin provides the first analysis of the role of translated English children's literature in modern Russian history and offers fresh insight into Anglo-Russian relations from the Russian Revolution to the present day. This ground-breaking book is therefore a vital resource for scholars of Russian history and literary translation.
Polina Popova is a Ph.D. student at the history department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.