October 27, 2020

A lecture by Boris Aronstein: “Dylan Thomas: the Consonance of Word, Sound and Image”

On October 26, founder and president of TechInput Group of Companies, visiting professor at the Moscow State University, the National Research University Higher School of Economics and the New Economic School, as well as several US universities, publisher of a number of bilingual US magazines, and literary translator Boris Aronstein met with the readership of the Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature where he gave a lecture titled: “Dylan Thomas: the Consonance of Word, Sound and Image”, that lecture being part of a series of lectures on translation of English fiction.

Boris Aronshtein has authored three collections of translated poems, one of which is titled “Word and Sound”.  The book comprises 29 poems by Dylan Thomas from his four collections of verses published in his lifetime and their records made by the author in the 40s and 50s of the last century in the BBC studio, the translations of those poems made by Boris Aronshtein and their recordings in Russian, as well as a collection of photos featuring the parts of Wales where the poet had spent the first half of his own life.

The author believes that Dylan Thomas could be seen as a landmark poet in more than one regard. That is to say, the English poetry can generally be described as comprising several language periods. Among those are the periods exemplified by the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, George Byron, Wystan Auden. Still, Dylan Thomas represents a whole new level and a totally different period in the evolution of the English language. His poems constitute the pinnacle of the English poetic prosody.

“It’s been years since I translated Dylan Thomas’ world famous poems “Do not go gentle into that good night”, which he wrote for his dying father, and “Vision and prayer” written on the occasion of . But this had totally captivated me at the time. Dylan Thomas’ poetry hinges purely on associations. It is built of images rather than words. Those images first penetrate into your senses, and only then can they be interpreted and put on paper in Russian”, explains Boris Aronstein.

Dylan Thomas himself defined the core of his poetry as follows: “I make one image – though ‘make’ is not the right word; I let, perhaps, an image be ‘made’ emotionally in me and then apply to it what intellectual and critical forces I possess – let it breed another, let that image contradict the first, make, of the third image bred out of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict.” This sums up the sensory-associative quintessence of Dylan Thomas’s poetry.

An audio recording of Boris Aronstein’s lecture is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u36NArkVTCtvw2d339BO3mUS-XnzkKp3/view?usp=sharing

Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature is a federal library specializing in literature in foreign languages. Back in 1921, it was started as a Neophilologica library. Presently, the library a unique collection of foreign literature, which includes books and periodical literature in over 140 languages of the world.

A lecture by Boris Aronstein: “Dylan Thomas: the Consonance of Word, Sound and Image”