Dear Readers, Christine Steward from Embarking on a Course of Study has frequently contributed articles from her blog. She developed this post from her notes during a lecture by Jane Austen scholar, Gillian Dow.
GOUCHER JANE AUSTEN SCHOLAR LECTURE: “Translating Austen; Or, when Jane Goes Abroad”
Following are my notes from a fascinating lecture that takes place every other year at Goucher College, home of the Alberta H. and Henry G. Burke Papers and Jane Austen Research Collection. This year the scholar was Dr. Gillian Dow, Professor at Southampton University and of Chawton House Library.
Gillian has written a piece for Masterpiece on PBS that addresses my reading project:
What was “extensive reading” to consist of for Austen’s female contemporaries and her fictional heroines? Certainly, a diet of pure fiction would not suffice. Indeed, many late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century novels employ the device of a warning from the narrator, directed at their female reader: beware of the dangers of fiction, the young woman is told, it enflames the mind and leads to romantic flights of fancy.
More of that article here if you’d like to read it. Let’s continue on with my notes. It was a fascinating lecture!
(Note: if any of what appears below is incorrect, it is entirely my fault as I may have misheard as I tried to keep up.)
The talk took place in February, in the Alumni House at Goucher on an, if not warm, definitely almost-spring-like, evening. The room was packed. More than 100 people, with at least 20 students (a coup!). Her talk focused on the various translations of Jane in other countries. She began with a quote by T.E. Kebbel in The Fortnightly Review (1885): “Miss A could hardly be appreciated by anyone not thorough English.”
That said, Gillian told us that there’s a room in the Jane Austen House Museum where translations of Austen’s novels are kept on the shelves (wish I’d known this when I visited there last year – if you go, check these out). About 70 of them, from Japan, Serbia, Iran, and other European countries – Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France for example.
The first translation was in a Swiss periodical in 1813 – Pride and Prejudice.