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translation , twentieth (XX) century , literature , poetry , Scots , Hugh MacDiarmid , Edwin Morgan , Alastair Mackie , Alexander Blok , Vladimir Maiakovskii
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Russian Poetry in Scots

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From before the time of Pushkin Russian writers showed a considerable interest in Scottish culture, particularly as mediated by Ossian and Scott (both later eclipsed by Burns). Scottish expatriates (the ‘Caledonian phalanx’) were also active in pre-revolutionary Russia. But a specifically Scottish interest in Russian literature only developed in the 20th century, much aided by admiration for what was known of the new regime.

Hugh MacDairmid from

Hugh MacDairmid from 

Sydney Goodsir Smith

The Russian revolution coincided with what has been called the Scottish Renaissance, the movement of cultural revival led by Hugh MacDiarmid, modernist, communist and nationalist, who advocated the writing of poetry in Scots, as well as the opening up of Scottish culture to ‘current European tendencies’. This was the context for a rich flowering of translations of European poetry into lowland Scots (‘Lallans’), in which works of the new Russian poets were prominent (a related movement, later in the century, led to the creation of repertoire of dramatic translations into Scots, including Chekhov). In this paper I present and discuss some of the high spots in this wave of Scots translation, looking for instance at the Blok of MacDiarmid and Sydney Goodsir Smith, Edwin Morgan’s Maiakovskii, and the work of Alastair Mackie.

A. Blok

Alexander Blok

Paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012.

Tags :  literature, poetry, translation, twentieth (XX) century, Scots, Hugh MacDiarmid, Edwin Morgan, Alastair Mackie, Alexander  Blok, Vladimir Maiakovskii