Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023)
Essays by the members of the Hieronymus Translation Studies Research Group

From Canada to Hungary: The Unpublished Atwood

Fruzsina Kovács
Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Pázmány Papers vol. 1. nr. 1.

Published 12/18/2023 — Updated on 06/13/2024


  • Margaret Atwood,
  • Canadian literature,
  • Communism,
  • translation,
  • reviewing documents


The first Margaret Atwood book appeared in 1984 in Hungarian translation but that does not mean that Európa Publishing House did not follow Atwood’s literary work closely during Communism. Both her prose and poetry were reviewed, often shortly after the original English language publication. The paper examines twenty-two reviewing in-house documents that Európa Publisher used as part of the selection process and an informal censorship procedure. First, the study draws the cultural context for the in-house selection tools and then identifies key themes in the anonymized reviewing documents of the era, such as: possible titles for the books, poetry weighed on scales, the practice of multiple reviewing, social classes in translation, relying on paratexts, the reputation of international success behind the Iron Curtain, and in what way is this literature “Canadian”? The paper tracks the publishing paths of all Atwood books reviewed during and immediately after the political change of 1989, concluding that the tools for selecting books for translation have changed, not only due to the political change, but as a result of the accelerated publishing practices that focus on bestseller lists, literary prizes, pitches of literary agencies and a network of personal contacts.