Robert Burns in Russia: Translations and Influences

This talk by visiting speaker, Natalia Kaloh Vid (University of Maribor), introduced the history of Burns translation in Russia, beginning with the nineteenth century, but focusing on the extraordinary cultural dominance Burns achieved in the Soviet Union in translations by Marshak.

The poems of Robert Burns have sold millions of copies in Russia, and his songs can be regularly heard on radio, television and in famous films. The talk introduced the history of Burns translation in Russia, beginning with the nineteenth century, but focusing on the extraordinary cultural dominance Burns achieved in the Soviet Union in translations by Marshak. It illustrated the transformations and distortions imposed upon Burns’s texts by a state ideology that set an official standard for art and literature. A stylistic analysis of the different translation strategies used by Marshak to create a ‘Soviet’ Burns was presented in a way accessible to a general audience – no knowledge of Russian required!

Natalia Kaloh Vid is an Associate Professor at the Department of Translation Studies, University of Maribor, Slovenia. She is the author of three books, including Ideological Translations of Robert Burns’s Poetry in Russia and in the Soviet Union (2011), and numerous articles and books chapters on the Russian and Soviet reception of Burns, and the influence of ideology on literary translations.

Audio recording (Media Hopper)


The event took place on 25 January 2018