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The Poetic Phraseology of Pushkin’s translation “From A. Chénier”: Sources and Contexts

Elena V. Kardash


This article extensively explores the poetic language of Pushkin’s poem From A. Chénier («The cover, soaked by caustic blood…»), which is a translation of A. Chénier’s eclogue «Œta, mont ennobli par cette nuit ardente…». The differences between plots, images and lexical-semantic components of the original text and the translation constitute the material for verification, revision and expansion of currently known literary sources and contexts of Pushkin’s poem. Philological and literary analysis shows that Pushkin’s translation novelties are not rooted directly in antique sources, as previously alleged, but stem from their French translations or more or less distant literary adaptations that Pushkin read and knew well (the list includes A. Banier’s prosaic translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the 15th book of Fénelon’s The Adventures of Telemaque). The article also demonstrates close genetic and typological links between the poetic language of Pushkin’s translation and a range of contemporary literary images and poetic “formulas” that were traditionally used for depicting excruciating amorous passion and battle frenzy. The complicated palimpsest of allusions links Pushkin’s translation in the first case to the 3rd book of Virgil’s Georgics, Thomson’s Seasons and, in a broader context, to the elegiac topos of “amorous folly” (see Chénier’s «Hier, en te quittant, enivré de tes charmes…» and Pushkin’s To a Dreamer), and in the second case — to I. I. Dmitriev’s poem Ermak. Emphasizing the diversity of stylistic and semantic grounds for the translator’s choice of phraseological toolkit, the article regards Pushkin’s text as one of the multiple literary representations of poetic topoi typical for the first third of the 19th century.


DOI: 10.31168/2305-6754.2019.8.2.8


Pushkin; Chénier; death of Heracles; poetic translation; formulaic language; poetic topoi of the end of the 18th — the first third of the 19th centuries


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