Heine's Russian Doppelgänger: Nineteenth-Century Translations of his Poetry
University of Exeter
The Modern Language Review
Modern Humanities Research Association
Numerous Russian translations of Heine's poetry appeared in the mid-nineteenth century. Literary-political debates between radicals and conservatives shaped the reception of these translations, and the strategies adopted by translators. Both sides claimed that Heine represented their views on art, and both overlooked the ambivalence in his writing. Translators had difficulty handling Heine's metre and irony, tending instead to unrelieved sentiment. Humorous verse of the time expresses popular views of Heine's poetry, and of his translators' shortcomings. Early twentieth-century translations by poets such as Aleksandr Blok were able to render with far greater success Heine's irony, his flexible and colloquial style.