In the one hundred and ten years covered by volume four of The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, what characterized translation was above all the move to encompass what Goethe called 'world literature'. This occurred, paradoxically, at a time when English literature is often seen as increasingly self-sufficient. In Europe, the culture of Germany was a new source of inspiration, as were the medieval literatures and the popular ballads of many lands, from Spain to Serbia. From the mid-century, the other literatures of the North, both ancient and modern, were extensively translated, and the last third of the century saw the beginning of the Russian vogue. Meanwhile, as the British presence in the East was consolidated, translation helped readers to take possession of 'exotic' non-European cultures, from Persian and Arabic to Sanskrit and Chinese. The thirty-five contributors bring an enormous range of expertise to the exploration of these new developments and of the fascinating debates which reopened old questions about the translator's task, as the new literalism, whether scholarly or experimental, vied with established modes of translation.
The complex story unfolds in Britain and its empire, but also in the United States, involving not just translators, publishers, and readers, but also institutions such as the universities and the periodical press. Nineteenth-century English literature emerges as more open to the foreign than has been recognized before, with far-reaching effects on its orientation.
THE OXFORD HISTORY OF LITERARY TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH General Editors: Peter France and Stuart Gillespie This groundbreaking five-volume history runs from the Middle Ages to the year 2000. It is a critical history, treating translations wherever appropriate as literary works in their own right, and reveals the vital part played by translators and translation in shaping the literary culture of the English-speaking world, both for writers and readers. It thus offers new and often challenging perspectives on the history of literature in English. As well as examining the translations and their wider impact, it explores the processes by which they came into being and were disseminated, and provides extensive bibliographical and biographical reference material. In the period covered by Volume 2 comes a drive, unprecedented in its energy and scope, to bring foreign writing of all kinds into English. The humanist scholar depicted in Antonello's St Jerome, the jacket illustration, is one of the figures at work, and one of the most self-conscious and prolonged encounters that took place was with the Bible, a uniquely fraught and intimidating original.
But early modern English translation often finds its setting within far busier scenes of worldly life - on the London stage, as a bid for patronage, for purposes polemical, political, hortatory, instructional, and as a way of making a living in the expanding book trade. Translation became, as never before, a part of the English writer's career, and sometimes a whole career in itself. Translation was also fundamental in the evolution of the still unfixed English language and its still unfixed literary styles. Some translations of this period have themselves become landmarks in English literature and have exercised a profound and enduring influence on perceptions of their originals in the anglophone world; others less well-known are treated more comprehensively here than in any previous history. The entire phenomenon is documented in an extensive bibliography of literary translations of the period, the most comprehensive ever compiled. The work of our early modern translators, with all its energy, is not always scholarly or even always convincing. But after this era is over English translation never again feels quite so urgent or contentious.
Volume 3 of the Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, the first of the five to appear, lies at the chronological centre of the History, and explores in full breadth both the rich tradition of translated literature in English, and its centrality to the 'native' tradition. Quite independently of their wider impact, the translations of the age of Dryden and Pope, Behn and Smart, Macpherson and Smollett in themselves command the fullest attention, and Volume 3 explores their intrinsic interest as fully-fledged English literary works. In this period, translation - particularly from Latin, Greek, and French - acts as a constant point of reference and a crucial shaping force in English writing. It is an era in which key literary innovations - the heroic couplet, the sublime, primitivism - are fostered, and sometimes directly occasioned, by translation as a discipline and by translations as models. This volume also attends, therefore, to the influence of translation on forms and styles used in the wider literary arena, and its contribution to conceptions of the English literary canon (for which this period was formative).
Volume 3 draws on the work of thirty-two contributors from six countries in order to deal adequately with the prolific and diffuse nature of the translation phenomenon in the 1660-1790 period, and the challenge it presents to literary scholarship as traditionally organized. To the audience it will find among scholars of English Literature and elsewhere, this complete version of a story hitherto told only piecemeal will be a revelation. This volume proposes a map of the period completely different from those drawn in other modern literary histories, a map in which boundaries between 'original' and translated work in publishers' output, in readers' experience, in writers' oeuvres, and in the English literary achievement as a whole are redrawn - or erased - at a stroke. What is more, it demonstrates that such a view of English literature was predominant within the period itself.
THE OXFORD HISTORY OF LITERARY TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH General Editors: Peter France and Stuart Gillespie This groundbreaking five-volume history runs from the Middle Ages to the year 2000. It is a critical history, treating translations wherever appropriate as literary works in their own right, and reveals the vital part played by translators and translation in shaping the literary culture of the English-speaking world, both for writers and readers. It thus offers new and often challenging perspectives on the history of literature in English. As well as examining the translations and their wider impact, it explores the processes by which they came into being and were disseminated, and provides extensive bibliographical and biographical reference material. Volume 1 of The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English originates with what medievalists have long known, that virtually everything written in the Middle Ages in English can be regarded, one way or another, as a translation, and that medieval understandings of what constitutes literature were significantly more generous than many modern ones.
It uses modern as well as medieval understandings of translation to inform its discussions (the two understandings have a great deal in common), and it aims to situate medieval translation in English as fully as possible in its various cultural contexts: this includes, in particular, the complicated inter-relations of translation throughout the period into Latin, and (for the Middle English period) of translation in French. Since it also understands the Middle Ages of its title as including the first half of the sixteenth century, it studies what has survived of nearly a thousand years of translation activity in England.