My current research explores notions of alterity and commonality within late 20th century Central and Eastern European Illustrated translations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Through the analysis of the work of illustrators originating from two former Soviet Republics (Russia and Georgia) and three former Soviet satellite states (Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland), I am in the process of revealing fresh incidences of cross-cultural contact and visual appropriation occurring within global Tolkien visual culture during the final years of Communist rule.
By adopting a ground-up contextualising approach which connects each illustrator’s individual narrative to country-specific and wider Soviet, and post-Soviet narratives, my project is designed to obviate the trait of western self-absorption common to many studies of this kind.
Instead, I am seeking to emphasise the distinct regional specificity of content and context present within the illustrations, whilst also acknowledging and elucidating the interface of eastern/western visual motifs.
6 August 2021. SR Westvik