Keywords: translation, exactitude, Strindberg, cultural interaction, Swedish literature, Scandinavian studies, naturalism, decadence, pacifism
Abstract: The article examines six different translations of August Strindberg’s short story “Samvetsqval” (Remorse) (1885), namely, two French ones, two Russian ones and one German, published between 1885 and 1919. The focus is put on translation strategies, on the way the author influences the translator’s activity, on the relationship between different versions and on the — sometime quite dramatic — changes that text can result when the translation is made not from the original but from a “relay” text — from another translation. In Strindberg’s story, the hero, a Prussian officer, orders the execution of French partisans taken prisoner in 1871, is tormented by remorse, becomes mad, recovers his mental health in a Swiss sanatorium and become a convinced pacifist dreaming about a Union of European Nations. The first French translation (1885) was complete, however the second one (1894), made by an Austro-Hungarian countess who published under a pseudonym, omitted half of the story because it was made not from the original, but from an incomplete German version. Nevertheless, Strindberg himself was satisfied with the result, because during the nine years that passed since the publication of the original story he had lost interest in those utopian ideas that had occupied his mind in 1885. Moreover, in the new “decadent” context the accent placed on the individual psyche instead of the pacifist theme seemed to him more appropriate. The Russian translation of Strindberg’s story, published in 1919, also takes considerable liberties with the original text: the long humanistic monolog, the “highlight” of the story, is no long pronounced by a priest, but by a woman innkeeper.