We had a very fruitful conversation with Alec, Grace, Luna and Prescott, and agreed on the fact that although one can tell the two translations are of the same poem, they are vastly different. To begin with, Anderson’s translation used more simple language and the message was presented in a more straightforward manner, creating a more personal tone. On the other hand, in his translation Thomas makes use of more advanced and metaphorical language, which set the tone as more distant, but also more professional, poetic and lyrical. In this respect, the messages delivered by the pieces are also drastically different; the more emotional translation by Anderson evokes the powerful feelings of agony experienced by the woman whose son is imprisoned, and the more sophisticated translation by Thomas carries out this deeper feeling of hopelessness that the Terror created to the people of the Soviet Union. Moreover, from my experience with original Greek and German poetry, I agreed when it was brought up that Thomas’ translation, having a more cryptic and mysterious tone, felt more like non-English literature, whereas the translation by Anderson, seemed more like it was written by a native English speaker, based on the word choice and structure. Overall, I would say that the simplicity characterizing Anderson’s translation makes it more understandable and suitable for a person that is not familiar at all with Stalin’s Terror. However, Thomas’ translation is aesthetically more appealing to me and is more intriguing, provoking questions and causing the reader to get involved and think.
About Prof. Ewington’s lecture:
!: It is interesting to see how even poetry not challenging the regime was severely censored and fought against simply because it was outside the Soviet aesthetic as created by the constant propaganda!
?: After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, did poets received the respect and admiration that they had in pre-revolutionary times, as the most important truth-tellers?