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The Style of Pasternaks Translations of Shakespeare in Comparison to the Style of His Original Writings


Area Studies


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


The purpose of this paper is to examine the style of Pasternaks translations of Shakespeare in relation to the style of Pasternaks original writings. While analyzing Boris Pasternaks translations of eight plays by Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, two parts of Henry IV, King Lear, and Macbeth, critics have mostly paid attention to the fidelity of the translations to the originals and have not scrutinized the relationship between the style of Pasternaks translations and of his original poetry and prose. Such critics of Pasternaks renditions of Shakespeare, especially of Hamlet, as L. Borovoi, V. Levik, and Iu. Levin, have found that the language of his translations is similar to that of his own poetry, while others, Anna Akhmatova in particular, that it is not. Anna Kay France and Henry Gifford, among others, believe that Pasternaks translations are closer to his style after 1940, which is more traditional and simple than the style of his previous writings. Undoubtedly, Pasternaks translations have features marking them apart from other Russian renderings of Shakespeare. Among the peculiarities of their lexicon are appositional compounds, substantive adjectives, folkloric elements, allusions to contemporary events, and a great number of idiomatic expressions and other colloquialisms. The frequent ellipses in Pasternaks translations, though not necessarily in the spirit of Shakespeare, sometimes lead to distortions or ambiguity.

Conference Name

2013 AATSEEL Conference

Conference Location

Boston, MA

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