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Reverberations of RevolutionTransnational Perspectives, 1770-1850$
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Elizabeth Amann and Michael Boyden

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474481588

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474481588.001.0001

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Pugachev Goes Global: The Revolutionary Potential of Translation

Pugachev Goes Global: The Revolutionary Potential of Translation

(p.13) Chapter 1 Pugachev Goes Global: The Revolutionary Potential of Translation
Reverberations of Revolution

Malte Griesse

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter by Malte Griesse explores the reverberations of what was probably the most serious revolutionary event in eighteenth-century Europe before the French Revolution: the Pugachev Rebellion of 1773–75. This Cossack “uprising” was led by Emel’ian Pugachev, who posed as Peter III, the tsar who had been ousted and assassinated in 1762. After the rebellion was suppressed, Catherine the Great, Peter III’s widow and successor, attempted to silence all discussion of the events in Russia. She was unable, however, to control their reverberations abroad. Griesse examines two accounts of the uprising by foreign writers. The first is a 1775 biography of Pugachev in French (allegedly a translation of a Russian original) that represents the rebel as a cosmopolitan figure and Enlightenment reformer. The work serves both to critique despotism in France and to challenge Catherine II’s monopoly on Enlightenment discourse in Russia. The second text, which seems a reaction to the first, is an anonymous German account of the revolt, which depicts Pugachev as an illiterate brute. Griesse analyzes the contexts in which these works were published and traces how these representations were “retranslated” into Russian when the taboo began to be relaxed.

Keywords:   Pugachev Rebellion, Emel’ian Pugachev, damnatio memoriae, retranslation, pseudotranslation, Russia, Alexander Pushkin

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