Alice in translation

In October 1866 Lewis Carroll told his publisher Macmillan that his friends in Oxford “seem to think that the book [Alice’s adventures in Wonderland] is untranslatable”.  History has proved his friends very wrong, as a new three volume acquisition by the Library, Alice in a world of wonderlands : translations of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, edited by Jon A. Lindseth (S950.b.201.3527-3529), makes clear.

– Waddleton.c.1.395

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Gregory Rabassa, 1922-2016


Gregory Rabassa in 2007 (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Many of the Latin American Boom’s greatest writers owe much of their international acclaim to one man: Gregory Rabassa, who passed away last month.

Rabassa’s English translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (9743.c.74), Mario Vargas Llosa’s The green house (9743.c.108) and, in particular, Gabriel García Márquez’s One hundred years of solitude (9743.c.116) sold millions of copies and brought these authors to a much wider audience. He enjoyed a particularly close and mutually appreciative relationship with Cortázar and also translated the great Brazilian authors, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado and Machado de Assis, amongst many others. Continue reading

A Matter of Morals: Victorian Britain versus Europe

This guest post is written by Dr Jaap Harskamp (formerly Curator of Dutch & Flemish collections at the British Library, who is now working on the University Library’s early Dutch books)

Vizetelly editions in the UL (1887.7.469, 1888.7.490, 1888.7.491)

Vizetelly editions in the UL (1887.7.469, 1888.7.490, 1888.7.491)

Victorian Britain was obsessively engaged in battling obscenity in print. In 1888/9 publisher Henry Vizetelly of Catherine Street in London was twice convicted of indecency for issuing two-shilling English translations of Émile Zola’s fiction. His prosecution was the result of pressure from the National Vigilance Association, a social-reform group established in 1885 which argued that readers needed protection from explicit sexual descriptions contained in novels such as La terre. The translations were suppressed, but not the French originals. In other words, literary value was contingent on a work’s presumed audience, rather than on its content. In response to the Vizetelly trial, The Methodist Times published the following editorial comment: ‘Zolaism is a disease. It is a study of the putrid … No one can read Zola without moral contamination’. Victorian society rejected the author as an ‘apostle of the gutter’. Continue reading

Austen in Austria and Persuasion in Parma : the imperial collection of Marie-Louise, second wife of Napoleon

The crowned monogram of Marie-Louise

The crowned monogram of Marie-Louise

Marie-Louise of Austria (according to French and German Wikipedias), Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (according to English Wikipedia), Marie Louise,‏ Empress, consort of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French,‏ 1791-1847‏ (according to the Library of Congress), or simply Marie-Louise, in the new book of selections from her journal in the UL, Adieu à l’empereur : journal de voyage de Marie-Louise / édition, introduction et commenatire par Charles-Éloi Vial (C204.d.1687). Her marriage to Napoleon from 1810-1814 was a politically inspired one, and followed his marriage to Josephine. Their marriage ended upon his exile, when she became duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastella. Marie-Louise remarried upon Napoleon’s death, and eventually lived until 1847.

Adieu à l’empereur contains some of Marie-Louise’s journal entries and a selection of letters between her and Napoleon. By all accounts a very well educated woman, Marie-Louise is primarily represented in the University Library as the subject of popular histories (for example: The women Napoleon loved by Tighe Hopkins, 1910, 454.c.91.5), diaries and letters (The private diaries of the Empress Marie-Louise, wife of Napoleon I with introduction and commentary by Frédéric Masson, 1922, 568.d.92.4; and Correspondance de Marie Louise, 1799-1847 : lettres intimes et inédites à la comtesse de Colloredo et à Mlle de Poutet, depuis 1810 comtesse de Crenneville, 1887, RB.26.38), and as the recipient of letters (Lettres inédites à Marie-Louise : écrites de 1810 à 1814 by Napoleon, in a volume of 1935, at 456.c.93.590). To a certain extent, her education is attributable to improving her marriageability: for instance, she was fluent in German (her native language), French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. Continue reading

European literature in English translation : recent prizewinners

A recent blog post on Brazilian authors at the Paris book fair contrasted the numerous works of contemporary Brazilian literature in French with the far smaller number of titles which have appeared in English. It should be recognised, however, that the Society of Authors, with support from the Arts Council and a number of other funding bodies, administers prizes for published translations into English from Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Not all prizes are awarded annually, however, which accounts for the different years in the list of awards which follows. It is standard procedure in our catalogue entries to give an access point for all literary translators as well as authors, as well as to provide the title of the original work wherever possible.


Items collected at the UL

Vondel prize for Dutch translation

Winner in 2013: David Colmer for his translation of The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst (Portobello). 2012.8.1300

Original: De helaasheid der dingen. [On order]

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