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«Драгыя смеяныя»: к вопросу о русской рецепции комедии Мольера «Смешные жеманницы» («Les précieuses ridicules»)

 At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Russian readers took considerable interest in translations from Western-European literature, including drama, as evidenced by translation of the one-act play by Molière “Les précieuses ridicules.” The play was targeted at the so-called “affected ladies” — specific feminine social type emerged in Paris and French province in the middle of the 17th century. Ladies bearing this nickname were known for their campy behavior and sophisticated jargon obscure for popular audience. By ridiculing pretentious ladies Molière sided with the French court that wanted to keep leadership in promoting gallant norms of aristocratic behavior. Molière’s play was translated into Russian in 1708 by an anonymousNovgorod translator who actually failed to grasp true intentions of its author due to a number of objective reasons (for example, he was unfamiliar with the mainstream gallant patterns as represented in the novels of Madeleine de Scudéry). The Russian version with rather an awkward title “Laughable Darlings” completely neutralized the pivotal opposition between the campy “jargon” of the pretentious ladies and the neutral, untainted language of their opponents: all characters in the Russian version speak the same sophisticated dialect. The text of the Russian translation of 1708 was published by N. S. Tikhomirov in 1874 and was used in the works of Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Mikhail Bulgakov. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries there were attempts at new translations of the play with equally unsuccessful titles that proves the impossibility to find an adequate Russian equivalent to the French word “la précieuse.” The play that satirically rendered the polemics within French aristocratic culture becomes a schematic representation of “exotic” Parisian high life in its Russian version.