The diary that Ewa Felińska published in 1850 of her Siberian exile, which was translated into English by a Polish exile, was one of the first pieces of Siberian exile travel literature in existence. Offering geographic and ethnographic details that are still cited today, the work nevertheless fell into obscurity despite evidence of its popularity, particularly of the English version. This article argues that one reason for its disappearance is the political purpose for which it was translated: to build up British support for Polish independence. To accomplish this goal, the translator made significant changes to Felińska’s work, camouflaging her representation of herself as resourceful, courageous, and strong in order to shape her into the melodramatic heroine that might elicit more sympathy from a Victorian audience. The alterations also masked her writing style and changed the work’s structure. Had not the translation been so tailored for a specific purpose, the work might not have been forgotten.
Feb 14, 2023