Lada Kolomiyets and Oleksandr Kalnychenko

Published On


Page Range

pp. 295–320


  • English

Print Length

26 pages

Translating Russian Literature in Soviet and Post-Soviet Ukraine

This chapter describes Russian-Ukrainian literary translation from the early 1920s to the early 2020s within the so-called “common cultural space.” Close, chronological analysis of the shifting priorities across a century of Ukraine’s translation-publishing history demonstrates that Russian-Ukrainian translation has both bright and dark sides. On the one hand, literary translation provided a means by which Ukrainian writers absorbed Russian culture, its literary forms and ideas, thereby contributing to the advancement of Ukrainian literature. On the other hand, a Soviet cultural space was established that not only deliberately isolated the Communist bloc from the world cultural space, but was intended to replace it by imposing Russian language and translations from Russian. For the Soviet Republic of Ukraine (UkrSSR), the result was Russification of the Ukrainian language and the provincialization of Ukrainian literature.
This study distinguishes the key stages in recent Russian-Ukrainian translation, from the earliest phase between 1917-1926 when poetry translation played a leading role, to the present-day when Ukraine’s “common information space” with Russia contracted to the point of disappearing following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and then full-scale invasion in February 2022. Echoing the view voiced by Ukrainian author Oksana Zabuzhko that Putin’s offensive on 24 February owed much to Dostoevskyism, Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science passed legislation barring the inclusion of texts belonging to the Russian literary canon from foreign literature programmes in Ukrainian secondary and higher education institutions. By way of extension, translations of Russian-speaking writers from the former Soviet republics have also been curbed.


Lada Kolomiyets

Professor of Translation Studies at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Harris Professor at Dartmouth College

Lada Kolomiyets is Professor of Translation Studies at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv and the Harris Professor at Dartmouth College, USA. She is a widely published scholar on the history of translation and censorship in Ukraine, with a monograph, Ukrainian Literary Translation and Translators in the 1920s–1930s (Nova Knyha, 2015), numerous book chapters and articles.

Oleksandr Kalnychenko

Professor of Mykola Lukash Translation Studies Department at Matej Bel University

Oleksandr Kalnychenko is Associate Professor of Mykola Lukash Translation Studies Department at V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine, and Professor of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. He is a co-editor of the Ukrainian version of the Handbook of Translation Studies (John Benjamins, 2010) and compiler of a critical anthology, Ukrainian Translation Thought of the 1920s (RVV KDPU Press, 2013).