Jane Eyre translation: 1849
Vvedenskiĭ himself experienced much that must have made him empathetic to topics and opinions expressed in Jane Eyre. He was an experienced teacher who was responsible for the literary education of military cadets. He had first-hand experience of poverty and also of an institution not dissimilar to Lowood. At age eight, he was sent to a seminary, where he was taught Russian grammar, Latin, Ancient Greek, arithmetic, theology, church history and singing. However, the teaching methodology was mostly limited to learning lessons by heart and the rod, as Vvedenskiĭ himself testified. Mostly, Vvedenskiĭ owed his education to his abilities as an autodidact.
He continued his education at the Saratov seminary, where literature, philosophy and theology were taught in Latin. He was among the first in his class and especially enjoyed writing dissertations. In 1834, aged 21, he was qualified to become a priest but chose to enroll as a university student in Moscow. However, he was unable to pursue his university studies due to poverty, and therefore went to a theological academy instead and audited university classes on the side. He was expelled four years later owing to a story that involved his courting a policeman’s daughter (a topic Bronte explored!). Poverty-stricken, he was aided by a university professor who enrolled him as a student and hired him as a teacher. The professor also used him as a translator for his publications.
Fet, the famous poet, wrote of him that he spoke Latin as fluently as Russian and also mastered written German, French, English and Italian, despite an abhorrent accent in these languages. Upon leaving for St Petersburg, Vvedenskiĭ was finally able to get a university degree and was charged with the instruction and the development of the course of literary study for military institutions. At the same time, Senkovskiĭ engaged him as translator and critic for his Biblioteka dlia chtenia periodical.
Vvedenskiĭ ‘s interest in English literature was originally due to his conviction that it had influenced Russian literature. He and a friend initially learned the language by themselves (like Mary and Diana, without any other master than the dictionary), and then got a native-speaker teacher. Vvedenskiĭ translated Thackeray and several Dickens novels, among other things, alongside his teaching job and occasional critical writings. He is also credited with being among the first translation theorists in Russia.
In 1853, Vvedenskiĭ took a voyage across Europe and spent 3 months in Germany, France and England. He hated Paris and loved London, although his planned meeting with Dickens did not take place as both he and Thackeray were away that month.
His translations of English authors are lively and accurate (except when they are not, as Vvedenskiĭ considered it his job to change and improve the original in its own spirit). His translations use characteristic language, which his contemporaries criticised as too colloquial.
Vvedenskiĭ described his own productivity as non-stop working for ten hours a day. By 1851, he estimated having translated 5248 pages alongside teaching for 23 hours a week. No wonder that soon after his return from Europe, his strained sight gave way and he went blind, his health weakened and he died. He was only 42.
Text by Eugenia Kelbert