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Stalking Nabokov$
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Brian Boyd

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158572

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158572.001.0001

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Nabokov as Verse Translator

Nabokov as Verse Translator

Introduction to Verses and Versions

(p.214) 16. Nabokov as Verse Translator
Stalking Nabokov

Brain Boyd

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Vladimir Nabokov's changing attitudes to translating Russian verse. It first considers Nabokov's translation of Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin into an English version that allows readers to understand the exact sense of Pushkin's lines but renounces any attempt to provide an equivalent of Pushkin's poetry, his perfect placement of words, his seemingly effortless mastery of rhythm and rhyme. It then looks at Nabokov's work before 1951 as a translator of verse into verse and goes on to discuss his translation of his old Russian novels. It also analyzes Nabokov's Verses and Versions, a master class in the possibilities and problems of literary translation; it is an anthology of Russian poetry and an introduction to the classics of Russian lyric verse. Finally, it reflects on Nabokov's realization that it was impossible to translate poetry as poetry with total fidelity to both sense and verse form.

Keywords:   literary translation, Vladimir Nabokov, Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, novel, Verses and Versions, Russian poetry, lyric verse

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