Cold War Women: Recovering Forgotten Female Translators of Russian and Soviet Literature
British interest in Russian authors had already waned before Constance Garnett's death in 1946, but during the Cold War (inter)cultural curiosity reignited, creating opportunities both for literature and for women translators. Hamish Hamilton, Hutchinson and Penguin in the UK, Dutton and Harper and Row in the US, Foreign Languages Publishing House in Moscow independently commissioned new translations of the Russian Classics and British, American and emigrée Russian women assumed roles as literary translators. Some lesser-known female translators were commissioned for their cultural, linguistic, and literary capital and, in return, literary translation provided employment, self-validation, and professional respectability. It also presented a platform for ideological activism including, on occasion, a smokescreen for (political or personal) intrigue. In this lecture, Dr. McAteer will be drawing on her latest microhistorical research to spotlight the professional careers (the practices, networks, tribulations, and achievements) and the complex socio-political contexts of a selection of forgotten female translators who acted as cultural gatekeepers between Russia, the UK, and US during the Cold War.