The Reception of Aleksei Remizov in England: Three Decades of Promoters and Translators
This paper reviews early efforts to promote Aleksei Remizov among British consumers of Russian fiction. Following Olga Kaznina's argument that critical acclaim and publicity affects the reception of literary translation, translators are discussed in conjunction with contemporary publicists.
The decade of the 1910s is represented by Harold Williams's promotion of Remizov in his 1915 Russia of the Russians and John Cournos’s early translations which appeared in periodicals. The Great War and Russia's status as war ally provide the context for this introduction of Remizov to the British public.
Harold Williams and Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams in a family circle (London, 1920s)
The decade of the 1920s is represented by Dmitry Mirsky's aggressive championing of Remizov in his effort to promote a different 'taste' among the British for Russian authors. The commencement of these efforts coincided with the 1924 publication of Cournos’ translation of The Clock, together with his previously published translations. Two new translators, Joshua Cooper and Alec Brown, were protégés of Mirsky. Finally, there was Jane Harrison, introduced by Remizov to Mirsky, who became a close friend and collaborator with both men.
The decade of the 1930s belonged to a younger generation, steeped in
European modernism. Stefan Schimanski joined forces with George Reavey to continue efforts of the previous generation, with a translation by Beatrice Scott.
The complexion of European modernism is exemplified in the cross-generational alliances and trans-national backgrounds represented in these three decades of work toward establishing Remizov as a writer of choice among British readers.
Paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012. Full text published in
A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture, ed. By Anthony Cross. Open Book Publisher, 2012.