Translating Shakespeare’s Life into Russian

The talk (in English) will focus on the strategies of translating into Russian a literary biographical novel Will (first published in 2007 in English and in 2018 in Russia), by a contemporary British author, Christopher Rush. The novel, which begins as a dialogue of the gravely ill dramatist with his lawyer, soon turns into the final soliloquy of the dying bard. Unsurprisingly Rush’s “Shakespeare” quotes freely, both verbatim and paraphrasing from his own works, the Bible, ancient Greek and Roman poetry and plays, contemporary playwrights and in a playfully anachronistic manner, even from the works of the English literary canon which postdate him. I would argue that such a rich and complex postmodernist textual collage poses considerable difficulties for a translator as they have to reconcile the stylised speech of the “Shakespeare”, researched and recreated by the novelist, with the already existing translations of Shakespeare’s works into Russian produced in the last two centuries. The paper considers the difficulties of the identification, the principles of selection and the degree of adjustment of the existing material to the narrative with the view of achieving a vivid, naturally fluent and artistically convincing seamless target text.


Anna Rush conducted her doctoral research into Yurii Tynianov, historical novelist and Pushkinist at the University of St Andrews. Together with her husband she has translated into English two of Tynianov’s novels, Young Pushkin and The Death of Vazir-Mukhtar and his novella Wax Effigy. Her translations in various genres have been published in Britain, Russia and the USA. The novel Will in her translation was released by the publishing house Palmyra, St Petersburg, in April 2018 under the title Завещание Шекспира.

William Shakespeare
Nov 05 2018 -

Translating Shakespeare’s Life into Russian

A free seminar by guest speaker, Dr Anna Rush (Edinburgh; Independent scholar and translator).

Project Room (1.06)
50 George Square