chapter  8
18 Pages

Speaking Silence and Silencing Speech

The Translations of Grand Duke Konstantin Romanov as Queer Writing 1
WithSergey Tyulenev

This chapter will consider the case of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov (nom de plume K.R.). He was married and fathered nine children, yet in his diaries, he left direct evidence of what he called his “sin” (grekh), “vice” (porok), or “lust” (pokhot’)—the objects of which were males. Unlike the direct confessions of his diaries, K.R.’s poetic translations have a complex nature. I will discuss several of his translations, some of which can be interpreted as telling hints at the translator’s sexuality. Theoretically, the case study of K.R. is informed by Sedgwick 1990 and Edelman 1994. Their theories of sexuality as reflected in literary works will be taken a step further to explain complex combinations of speech and silence as found in K.R.’s case, and his translations will be discussed as a special mode of homographesis. Methodologically, the focus is on examining translation juxtaposed with different types of evidence—his diaries, original poetry, and source texts. It is argued that diaries with their openness allow interpreting K.R.’s homographetic translations by identifying what could be termed as speaking silence and silencing speech.