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Collaborative Self-Translation as a Catastrophe: The Case of Vadim Kozovoï in French

  • Julia Holter
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting book series (PTTI)

Abstract

This chapter investigates issues of collaborative self-translation in its relation to power in the case of Vadim Kozovoï, a Russian poet and translator of French poetry in the context of the Soviet cultural underground of the 1970s and 1980s. Building on the sociological framework provided by Pascale Casanova (translation defined as unequal cultural exchange) and Gisèle Sapiro (translation market analysis), I examine Kozovoï’s difficulty to impose his innovative Russian verse on his French translation collaborators and the French literary market in general. Aided by Maurice Blanchot and other prominent French literary figures, Kozovoï could have benefited much more than he did from the political climate favourable to dissidents. His collaboratively translated selected poems richly illustrated by Henri Michaux, an avant-garde poet and artist (Hors de la Colline, 1984) had high symbolic value and in this regard could have been a springboard for his career. However, Kozovoï’s vehement view of poetry (“the liberating word won by blood”) got in the way of his literary success in France. Despite overcoming many political, cultural and material constraints, Kozovoï was not able to translate his own existential catastrophe into French or into the context of French literary culture.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Holter
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre national de la recherche scientifique CNRS/ENSParisFrance

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