! – Censorship was even used prior to Stalin.
? – In comparison to other times and regions, do Russian poets have more freedom or power towards the public?
Notes during our Zoom session
- Thomas more poetic words and stronger motifs, stronger imagery
- The tense of the poems are different which cause different emotions
- Rhyming in Anderson – trying to translate Russian rhyming
- Thomas’ poem lacks a line that shows an outside knowledge.
- Anderson is more reminiscent, much more active. Thomas was more passive.
- Ikon? With a c? Who is this icon Stalin?
- Holy candle in comparison to just a candlelight
- Anderson tries to stretch into a rhyme, Anderson much more artistic. Thomas seems more direct
My overall preference in reading translations was Anderson’s because I felt as it was translated to portray the same feel as the original poems. I would say that some people struggled to have a preference, yet agreed on many points.
For Thomas people agreed that he translated the poems word for word, and that Anderson translated to express equal meaning. We also analyzed some key things that Anderson did to try to portray the same emotions such as have a common attempt of rhyming. Also with how Anderson worded his translation seemed more active and in the moment, rather than Thomas’ passive voicing. We also talked about flow and how well we could read it and all agreed that Anderson’s had a easier read, yet Thomas’ comparisons and examples give more detail.
In our group we discussed the stylistic differences brought about by the translation of Akhmatova’s poem. Most of the group said that they enjoyed reading Anderson’s translation better because it rhymed, flowed better, and was more poetic. However, Alec and Nick said that they enjoyed Thomas’s translation better because it wasn’t as literal as Anderson’s and contained more metaphors and veiled language. Alec said that he liked it better because it challenged him more and gave him a better representation of Stalin’s Terror. I have to agree with Alec and Nick on this one. While I thought that Andersons’s translation was easier to read and flowed better, I thought that Thomas’s translation was more descriptive and had more interesting vocabulary that made the poem feel more representative of the time.
While reading both translations, I came to the conclusion that I liked Anderson’s better because of the emotion he puts into it. It is much more raw and to the point, so you really understand the depressing message he is trying to convey. Thomas’s piece is much more poetic. While it is pretty, I feel that it contains less emotion and that depressing factor that Anderson’s has, which makes one understand the time period better.
In my AT group, Gwen also agreed with me that she liked Anderson’s better. Her argument also referred back to the emotional scales the two pieces have. The rest of the group seemed to agree to her claim. While Thomas’s poetic words flowed really nicely, it does not match up to the rawness of Anderson’s narrative.
By: Caison Gray
After reading both translations of Akhmatova’s work, my group and I unanimously agreed we enjoyed the Anderson translation more than the Thomas translation. Anderson relayed the information in a more simplified tone while Thomas chose to translate the work word for word. Even though both approaches make sense, I resonated with the work of Anderson more because the poems had better flow and rhythm, allowing myself to better understand the poem while Thomas’ work felt more choppy, making it more difficult to comprehend. Also, Anderson was successful in maintaining rhythm. Many lines in Anderson’s translation are syntactically reversed in comparison to Thomas’s translation. Overall, I was able to appreciate the poetry of Anderson over the poetry of Thomas.
!: Stalin’s censorship of art and literature
?: When did poetry start holding so much weight in Russia?
I prefer the translation by Thomas over the translation by Anderson because I think it maintains more poetic license. I like how the Thomas translation repeats two words at the ends of the beginning verses, saying “goodbye goodbye,” and “pray pray.” I also find that it has more rhythm when I read it aloud. Maybe this is because the lines vary more in length in the Thomas one and some particularly short lines add emphasis to the poem.
!: The role of a poet is more significant in Russian culture than in American culture.
?: If they are just beginning to re-piece and honor/not honor Russian history under Stalin, what do we see as the future of the Russian collective conscience regarding that time?
During our meeting, our group discussed the styles that each of the translators had. We found that Anderson took it upon himself to not only translate, but poetically frame his translations so that it rhymed in english as well. This is evident in most, if not all of his translated poems. His thoroughness in this process, we argued, took away from the true meaning of the poems originally written in Russian. For example the very first poem disregards some of the context needed to understand that was illustrated in Thomas’ work. However, we found that Anderson’s process makes the words not only flow with ease, but more comprehensible in describing the situation at hand. Thomas includes many Russian references, but in doing this makes it difficult for someone without proper background to interpret his work. Personally, I enjoyed Anderson’s more due to his stylistic choices and easy-going interpretation.
!- Just as in 1984 and Animal Farm, I believe there are multiple hidden symbolisms in Sofia Petrovna that we might’ve missed.
? – What might be the repercussions if the Silver Age did not occur?
!: It’s interesting to me that the beginning of a period of dehumanization in Russia (and the more I think about it, I’m realizing in other countries as well) began with the death of art. Honestly, I had never really considered how important art is, but I think that speaks a lot to art’s political meaning.
?: Are there similarities between Russian poets and black American musicians/poets/writers, in terms of their meaning to their respective countries?
After discussing it with my group, it seems that the people who preferred to read the Thomas translation preferred to read a more literal translation, while those who preferred the Anderson translation (like I did) preferred its poetic/lyrical writing style. As Tomas said in our group conversation, Anderson’s translation spoke more to us on a personal level, as it felt like we were able to see directly into Akhmatova’s perspective.
Our AT liked the Thomas translation of Akhmatova for a couple of reasons.
- We thought that it was the more poetic of the two versions — it aims to remain true to the pieces original intent (poetic value)
- This translation was more complex and beautiful
- Although Thomas’s version was harder to understand in general, it tried to be more poetic
- It was less of a word for word translation, which is what we believed the Anderson translation to be
- We realized that all translations lose some of the intrinsic value of the original writing, but we felt as though Thomas tried to use his translation to bring the same artistic value
- Although word for word translations might be deemed more accurate, many times they can’t be exactly the same as the original or inspire the audience in the same ways
- It is impossible for a translation to have the same meaning — there are no direct translations for some words
The Anderson translation seems to be more focused on conveying the meaning and while the Thomas translation is more focused on retaining the artistic rhythm. In the Anderson certain phrases and sentences are inserted that do not appear in the Thomas. These things were most likely left out of the Thomas because they do not flow well artistically. My AT group and I prefer the Thomas because we enjoyed the artistic rhythm more than we were worried about the meaning.
My AT section decided that Anderson’s translation of Akhmatova’s “Requiem” preserves the artistic value and poetic expression that Akhmatova intended. Even if it is not a direct translation, the aesthetic and the emotional intent is conveys better than Thomas’ translation. It seems as if Anderson took some creative liberties in order to maintain the rhyming and cadence of the piece. This is best exemplified in the last poem, “Epilogue.” We all agreed on this.
!: Interesting how regimes restrict poetry and art because of its inherent politicism
?: Was the Tsar’s regime more authoritarian than Stalin’s?
! – “no place where the two cultures meet,” p16. Snow finds
no connection between science and literature, which surprises me as I was under
the impression the two co-exist
? – is the argument that snow makes still relevant today? Written in 1959, is there still a divide “between 2 polar groups”? (p.3)
Scientific theories recognised:
Oxygen theory of combustion: Antoine Lavoisier 1770s
Plate tectonics: Alfred Wegener, 1912. Tuzo Wilson, 1960s
Special relativity: Albert Einstein, 1905
General Relativity: Einstein, 1915
Quantum theory: Max Planck, Einstein, etc
Natural Selection: Darwin, 1859
Heliocentrism: Copernicus, 1543
Scientific experiments recognised:
!: There is a huge divide between humanities scholars and scientists which often leads to competitiveness about which discipline is more “important”.
“Literary intellectuals at one pole — at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension — sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding.” (4)
?: How has the bridge between the two sectors changed over time?
“Thirty years ago the cultures had long ceased to speak to each other: but at least they managed a kind of frozen smile across the gulf. Now the politeness has gone, and they just make faces.” (17)
Recognized: Mendel, Newton, Curie, Pavlov, plate tectonics, relativity, evolution by natural selection, and heliocentrism.
This is an amazing linking passage for science and writing. The first is “shallowly optimistic” (Page 5) in the latter’s mind, while the latter’s social attitudes are recognized as “contemptible” (Page 7)
“Each of us is solitary: each of us dies alone: all right,
that’s a fate against which we can’t struggle—but there is plenty in our
condition which is not fate, and against which we are less than human unless we
do struggle” (Page 6)
“Literature changes more slowly than science. It hasn’t the
same automatic corrective, and so its misguided periods are longer” (Page 8)
“At one pole, the scientific culture really is a culture,
not only in an intellectual but also in an anthropological sense. That is, its
members need not, and of course often do not, always completely understand each
other.” (Then literature will be more “cultural” than scientific for more of
them do not completely understand each other, Page 9)
“…more scientists are in religious terms unbelievers…slightly
more scientist are on the Left in open politics” (This goes back to the science
against the “traditional”, Page 10)
Music is an important exception in art for scientist. (Page
I don’t think two cultures are “self-improvised” in terms of other cultures’ books (Page 13~14)
Top 10 scientific theories and experiments: Second Law of Thermodynamics, mass, and acceleration (Page 15); refraction and polarized light (Page 16)
“Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding” (4)
!: The lack of understanding and hostility makes sense when you realize that they are tactics used to validate and uplift our own groups and we see this present in any type of group membership in society today
“There is only one way out of all this: it is, of course, by rethinking our education. In this country, for the two reasons I have given, that is more difficult than in any other. Nearly everyone will agree that our school education is too specialised. But nearly everyone feels that it is outside the will of man to alter it.” (18)
?: How long will it take (realistically) for the educational system to change? I feel like the only recent change that may be applicable to this is that more and more colleges/universities aren’t factoring in ACT/SAT scores in the admissions process.
- Game theory: John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, 1944 (with important embellishments from John Nash in the 1950s)
- Quantum theory: Max Planck, Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Born, Paul Dirac, 1900–1926
- Evolution by natural selection: Charles Darwin, 1859
- Heliocentrism: Copernicus, 1543
- The principles of inheritance by George Mendel,
- Classical conditioning by Ivan Pavlov
note ! & ? for your reading of C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” (lecture? paper? article? what is it now in this format?); be sure to include a quotation from Snow (and page number) for your observation and question.
Then also note which of the Top 10 scientific theories and experiments you recognized.
!: The “optimism” of scientists is that they believe something can be done unless it can be proven otherwise, not just random optimism out of no support or evidence.
?: How can we address the importance of literary work and study in today’s world? We are too inclined to think that science or STEM subjects are far more important today.