Genre has been one of the key categories for Russian literary studies
ever since the late nineteenth century, creating a long tradition of artistic,
critical and scientific interpretation. The present paper aims to outline major
findings of Russian scholars in the field of genre studies and to account for
current pitfalls, suggesting a solution. Russian scholars have contributed
noticeably to both constructing the theory of genre in general and establishing
the laws and genesis of many separate genres. Historical poetics, the Russian
Formalists, Bakhtin’s school and structuralism worked out the principles
of generic evolution and explained the nature of the genre category. Still,
currently Russian genology faces a number of challenges, among which is the
inability to work out a universal approach to genre nomination and attribution,
which causes inconsistent and unverified results. W hen it comes to describing
new genres, most troubling is the choice of deductive method in genre analysis
and a narrow specialist approach to each genre leading to inconclusive or
biased results. The paper suggests that these challenges can be overcome by
turning to the heritage of the classical Russian literary science and taking
advantage of comparative and inductive methods proponed by it.
The theory of foregrounding, developed by St. Petersburg scholar Irina Vladimirovna Arnold in the middle of the 20th century, was rather revolutionary for its time as it aimed to establish connection between formal levels of the language and textual meanings that allowed the reader to decode the author’s message. Arnold identifies four principal elements of foregrounding that disclose conceptual textual meaning: the strong position of a text, repetitions on different levels of language, the convergence of stylistic devices and defeated expectancy. The professor states that these elements of the text are always intentional and, thus, give a key to understanding the author’s message and position. This theory, being universal and easy to apply, has been widely used by Russian scholars working in the domain of textual linguistics and stylistics until nowadays. Such an approach increases the objectivity of the scientific findings in this area and enriches the overall text analysis with extra details and more meanings disclosed. The paper gives an overview of the theory of foregrounding, emphasizing the role it plays in text analysis and stylistics of decoding, and illustrates its principles with examples of practical analysis of the text conducted by the author of the paper.
The paper analyzes and compares the numerous translations of L’Étui de nacre by Anatole France into Russian. The undertaken research aims at establishing the tendencies in the long series of translations, taking into account the possible reasons for the translators’ long-lasting interest in the text. We first analyze the translational theories of the time and highlight their evolution during the first half of the 20th century. Then, we suggest an analysis of France’s cycle, and consider the motives behind its appeal to the translators. Finally, we compare the strategies chosen by the translators and the way they may affect the perception of the text. We argue that the flow of translations may be explained by the complexity of France’s text, which has resulted in a constant search for a perfect translation. The complexity comprised both linguistic difficulties, such as France’s balance of natural speech and elevated objects of description, and extralinguistic hurdles, for instance, the abundance of realias belonging to different epochs and countries. It is obvious that translations done in different years from 1890 to 1959 reflect the development of translation theory and also the political and social changes which Russia underwent during this period. Another conclusion that we are coming to is that the existing translations tend to demonstrate a significant decrease in ambiguity, inherent in France’s cycle.