The article is devoted to interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel
Keywords: Intersemiotic translationfictioninterpretationadaptationTolstoy
The year of 1959 was featured by the publication of Jakobson’s (1959) article
Literary texts, which we define as “strong” texts of culture, are texts known to the majority of world readers’ community; they are included in the various educational syllabi and characterised by the proneness to reinterpretation, as they accumulate “their” cultural information and memory and transmit this information to the representatives of “other” cultures, thus playing a crucial role in the interaction of the world’s cultures. Each new translation of a literary text performed by one or more translators does not constitute an orthogonal meander (a kind of “translation meander”) with the already existing translations, embodying the highest degree of strict regular repeatability in the translation of one text (translatability). In practice, the original text and its versions of various semiotic nature do not posit a space of identical meanders, but rather a complex and multi-coloured mosaic of interrelated and interconnected texts with a unifying semantic basis. The probable multiplicity of versions of one original text when translated into different foreign languages and into the same language by different translators during the “life” of the original piece of literature is a natural attribute of literary texts, directly related to the creative personality of the translator / interpreter, as well as to the aesthetic “strength” of the original text (see in detail: Razumovskaya, 2018).
The high aesthetic potential of a “strong” text, such as Tolstoy’s
Kaźmierczak (2018) argues that “when a film, a graphic novel, a computer game, a song, an opera, etc. is translated from language to language <it is not just> intersemiotic translation, <but> interlingual translation in the process of which it is obligatory to take into account other semiotic codes / layers constituting the work” (p. 26).
The article is focused on interpretation of Tolstoy’s
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the present study is to analyse different intersemiotic translations of Tolstoy’s
To construe the intersemiotic interpretations of Tolstoy’s
The works of Tolstoy were created in an era of profound historical changes in the life of Russia and the whole world and therefore marked a new stage in the development of literature. He was the first Russian writer to achieve the widest readership throughout Europe, and the first European writer to gain popularity in India, Japan and China during his lifetime (Motylyova, 1991, p. 131). At the beginning of 1869, the
During Tolstoy’s life, the novel was published 12 times in the Russian language (twice as separate books and ten times in collected works), once in Polish and twice in Finnish – all in Russia; abroad it was published 76 times in thirteen countries (Zaydenshnur, 1989). Following Tolstoy’s death the novel was published six more times. So, before October 1917, 18 editions of the novel were published in Russia. In the USSR,
Russian literature researchers have repeatedly stated that this Russian novel caused an extraordinary expansion of the narrative: in terms of both portraying human characters and fates, and involving the public from different countries in reading the novel, which continues to-date. Thus, it was Tolstoy who brought the art of novel writing beyond the traditional limits of depicting private life only, to new epic dimension. The penetration of the novel as a “strong” text of Russian culture into a wide space of world culture and its undoubtful influence on the world literary process became possible with the publication of its secondary versions in foreign languages. On the other hand, it is the ability for continuous reinterpretation that testifies to the text’s “strength” and largely determines its further “fate”.
The UNESCO translation database
It is known that the first country in which readers became acquainted with
At the moment, there are ten full-text English-language translations of the novel. The first translation into English was made by C. Bell from the French version (by I. Paskevich) and published in 1885-1886. In 1898, the American translator N. Dole released his English version, which became the second among English translations, and in 1904 another American translator, L. Wiener, created the third translation. In the same year, Publishing House
The head of the Tolstoy’s textual school Zaydenshnur (1989) admitted that foreign readers had got acquainted with the novel not only in full-text versions, but also in excerpts entitled as
The novel’s translating into the languages of the peoples of the USSR is a story of its own: writers from national republics solved the challenging task of retaining the particular features of the style of the great Russian writer in their translations. In 1935-1940,
As well as the appearance of foreign translations, the creation of the television and film versions of the novel also provides convincing proofs of its aesthetic value and “strength”, although
The first films based on the novel were created in pre-revolutionary Russia. The first known film adaptation (with the retained name
After the era of silent cinema, Tolstoy’s novel drew the attention of filmmakers only in the 1950s. The director of the 1956
In the UK, in 1972, the series
In the USSR, in 1959, well-known film director G. Danelia made a short film based on an excerpt from a novel. This
The intersemiotic translation can bring in new ideological struggles, when the adherents of the classic interpretation give way to momentary sentiments. Such is the fate of the musical
The musical adaptation of
The maximum possible representation of the problem issues of the novel in the opera music was recreated in thirteen scenes with a choral prologue, with 73 characters, including a large number of episodic ones, as well as figures who had real historical prototypes – Napoleon, Alexander I, Kutuzov, etc. A peculiar feature of the opera’s libretto is its “fragmentation”, that is, events occurring between the scenes are often not shown, they have to be thought up on the basis of the actors’ remarks – this enabled a wide coverage of the historical context and helped to enhance the epic sound of the opera. When creating the libretto, Prokofiev set a special task to bring the world of the opera as accurately as possible to the original source – Tolstoy’s novel. As a consequence, the libretto was written in prose with the inclusion of many fragments of direct speech from the novel. On June 7, 1945, a concert performance of the opera took place in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The first part of the opera was premiered on June 12, 1946 at the Leningrad Maly Opera House. In 1955 (after the death of the composer), it staged the full version of the opera. In 1957, the Musical Theater named after Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko hosted the Moscow premiere of the full version of the opera
Another interesting group of novel’s intersemiotic translations are memes – “an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means with the addendum that these images have text overlain on top, often for a humorous purpose” (Lonnberg et al., 2020, p. 1).
The analysed 119 memes in Russian and English can be grouped into several categories. They were mostly image texts that “enter into a discordant relation with each other, to not be coherent and seamless but to engage the viewer in a process of decoding and meaning-making” (Campbell & González, 2018, pp. 690-691). The first category (with the profuse number of examples – 42) reproaches
The analysis of Tolstoy’s
To sum up, in this work the authors compared and thoroughly analysed a number of realisations of Tolstoy’s
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20 November 2020
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Sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, bilingualism, multilingualism
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Razumovskaya, V. A., Valkova, Y. E., & Tarasenko, T. V. (2020). Intersemiotic Translation As A Special Type Of A Cultural Dialogue. In Е. Tareva, & T. N. Bokova (Eds.), Dialogue of Cultures - Culture of Dialogue: from Conflicting to Understanding, vol 95. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 780-790). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.03.83