Why bringing LotR to the USSR was a quest akin to a fiction tale: After the book was dismissed by Soviet censorship, independent translators took a great risk spreading Tolkien’s fiction in the Soviet Union
Amidst the Cold War, Soviet censorship was suspicious of all things Western. Written by a British writer, The Lord of the Rings was no exception. To share the classics of high fantasy with readers in the USSR, Soviet translators attempted to translate it illegally, publish the story under a different name, transform it into a play and even rewrite Tolkien’s book as a whole new sci-fi story.
In 1966, Soviet translator Zinaida Bobyr attempted a desperate move to adapt Tolkien’s fiction to the standards of the Soviet literary magazine Tekhnika-Molodezhi (Youth Engineering). Convinced the Soviet censorship would not allow printing a straightforward translation of the original, Bobyr transformed Tolkien’s epic fantasy into a science fiction novel and hid the magic theme behind the façade of rational scientific discoveries.…