The Translator Gisela Drohla (1924–1983)
This study is devoted to the work of the translator Gisela Drohla. After studying Classical Philology and writing her PhD thesis on an archaeological subject, she completed a second course in Slavic Philology. From 1958 to 1972 she introduced the German-speaking public to a large number of major Russian literary prose texts from the first decades of the 20th century by translating Andrei Belyi (Peterburg), Evgenii I. Zamiatin (My) and Iurii K. Olesha (Zavist’ ), for example. She was particularly interested in early Soviet prose (1918–1934) and was a pioneer in this field, because in the early 60s academic research on this period was only starting. Gisela Drohla also translated into German contemporary prose texts from the Thaw period and after. However, she expressed general reservations concerning these texts. Even after the end of the Stalin era, she said, Soviet literature was “dead” and had not produced any more masterpieces. Her statement expresses limitations which were widely felt by her generation. This was one of the reasons why Drohla gave up her work as a translator in 1972 and renewed her previous fields of interest (Antiquity, classical architecture) as a member of the faculty at the University of Marburg. This study is based for the most part on the existing correspondence between Gisela Drohla and the staff of her most important publishers (Insel, Suhrkamp, S. Fischer). This correspondence provides a lasting confirmation of her importance as a translator.