John Cournos - Fedor Sologub’s Translator into English and the Role Played by Zinaida Vengerova

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Fedor Sologub entered British literary consciousness only after the onset of WWI. The British-Russian war alliance was auspicious for the translation of Russian literature, bringing about what John Cournos termed a “Russian Boom.” In 1915 alone, two translated collections of Sologub’s short stories appeared. This paper examines the British reception of Sologub, with a focus on John Cournos (1881-1966), one of Sologub’s earliest and most prolific translators, and the role played by Zinaida Vengerova (1867-1941) as mediator between translator and author. In her correspondence with Sologub, Vengerova promotes Cournos as translator. A more pressing concern for Vengerova was to convince Sologub to make Cournos his “authorized” translator. This paper also argues that the reception of Sologub in Britain must be contextualized in terms of war propaganda. Politically, the British government prioritized the promotion of brotherly feeling between the two allies and a positive opinion of Russia. Prior to the war alliance, the British public held a negative opinion of tsarist Russia, of its government and culture. The controversial nature of Sologub’s writing complicated his critical reception.

About the authors

Marilyn Schwinn Smith

PhD in Comparative Literature, Independent Scholar

Elena V. Yushkova

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7388-1123

Candidate of Arts, Independent Scholar, Research Associate at Five College Women’s Studies Center


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Copyright (c) 2022 Smith M.S., Yushkova E.V.

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