Self-translation as Reimagining and Supplementing the Original: Rollan Seisenbayev's "Unfaithful" translation

  • Gyuzel Kamalova


Kazakh literature is one of the first to rebel against the socialist oppression of Kazakh nationality identity during the Soviet Union. During the post-Stalin period (1953) with the weakening of the socialist censorship the major split in the Kazakh literary circles occurred. The older generation of writers was committed to confirming socialist ideals whereas the younger generation was focused on the search and revival of nationality identity through literature. This paper will examine “Намыс” (“Honor”) (1966), a story written in Kazakh by Rollan Seisenbayev, a younger-generation humanist. He later self- translated this strongly nationalist text set during the 18th century Kazakh-Dzhungar war, into Russian as “Честь”. A comparative close reading of the nature imagery, the image of the hero/heroine and the protagonist in both the Kazakh original and the Russian self- translation, confirms the strong nationality identity theme. By examining Seisenbayev’s self-translation practice, this paper argues that the author’s unfaithfulness created two distinct version of one story the Kazakh realistic historical text and the Russian epic tale text.