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Yuli Gugolev was born in 1964 in Moscow. He is a translator and the author of two books of poetry: Polnoe. Sobranie sochineniy [Complete Works] (Moscow: OGI, 2000) and Komandirovochnye[…]

Yes, it’s possible, Gugolev says, but impossible to translate everything.

Question: Is poetry translatable?


Yuli Gugolev: It’s very, very complex question. Because different people have different thoughts about it. I wouldn’t say that I made a lot of translations, but I really worked with Shengshig [?] and Burnsitompolin [?]. It seems to me-- yes. It’s possible. But it’s absolutely impossible to translate everything. As Mikhail Gasparov [?] wrote in one of his books-- I'm sorry. I can’t tell you precise quotation. But the meaning was the duty and aim of the translator is not to tell how something said in foreign language might be said in own language of the translator.

But its duty and aim is to say why what was said in foreign language is impossible to be said in the native language of the translator. For me, some how, it is linked with that very search of the language. Because the truth, the perfect translation, it’s not text itself. It is something between original text and translation.

So I wouldn’t say that when we talk about translation of poetry, it is the process where only one side should work on-- I mean, translator. It is a process where it’s necessary to have both sides, the translator and reader. Actually, like, if we talk about reading, in general, the same. It is process of cooperation. So the best situation is when a reader is able to read on the language of the original and to read translation. And to be able to value, to analyze the ways which translator-- which were chosen by translator.


Recorded on: March 4, 2008