We’re delighted to announce the publication of our first issue, which features contributions from both the UK and abroad and ranges in scope from medieval translations to contemporary questions of identity. The entire issue is available for download in full here; alternatively, individual articles may be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the headers below.
Svetlana Yefimenko and Coline Blaizeau
French or Francophone: Postcolonial Immigrant Identities and Literature in Contemporary France
In the last half-century, many immigrants from France’s former colonies have made the hexagon their home and have contributed to the country’s literary output. However, these immigrants and their offspring are often deemed as ‘Others’. This kind of ‘othering’ is made manifest in the literary sphere through the labelling of their works as ‘francophone,’ rather than French, by the publishing industry. The first section of this article proposes a definition of (immigrant) identity that challenges this kind of exclusionary and essentialist discourse with reference to the concepts of hybridity, cultural identity and uncanniness propounded by Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Julia Kristeva respectively. This article then examines the littérature-monde manifesto to argue that its rejection of the term ‘francophone’ is not sufficient to dissolve this particular self/’Other’ binary. In light of this, this article proposes that Edward Said’s humanistic approach to reading, when accompanied by a Segalanian respect for the irreducibility of the individual, reflects the proposed conception of identity and so allows scholars to challenge, rather than reinforce, the marginalisation experienced by ethnic minority authors in France.
The Science of Success: Madame du Châtelet’s Scientific Corpus in University of Oxford Collections
This article examines the scientific texts written by Madame du Châtelet, one of the most well-known female scientists of the eighteenth century. It uses the material texts that are available in the University of Oxford collections to craft an intimate portrayal of a woman who managed to attain her intellectual apotheosis in a world dominated by the Hommes de Lettres. The article is concerned with the materiality of her texts, rather than their contents, thus exposing a raw look at detail often missed in scholarly practice. In so doing, what follows is a systematic chronology of how du Châtelet’s works were received physically. It is this focus on the exchange of physical objects that shows not just du Châtelet’s endeavour (in, for example, rivalling the prodigious Voltaire), but her success, too. Additionally, the article argues that du Châtelet constructed a stage from which to publicise her achievement and rigour, mainly through the translation of one of the century’s most prolific texts. Ultimately, Madame du Châtelet is shown to be an author and scientist whose works engaged in and shaped the great discourse of epistemology that defined the Enlightened age.
Battered and Bruised: A Translation of the ‘Fish-Knights’ Episode from Perceforest
This paper offers a translation (from Old French to modern English) of an excerpt from the late-medieval romance Perceforest, in which the protagonist, Béthidès, finds himself on an island populated by what appear to be four-legged, chivalric fish. While this particular episode has (perhaps understandably) elicited a significant degree of scholarly interest, it is yet to receive an unabridged translation. The excerpt in question encompasses the entirety of the ‘fish-knights’ episode, from the protagonist’s arrival to the island to the moment of his escape. The translation is preceded by a brief discussion offering some context both for the chosen passage and the text as a whole, as well as providing some insight into the translator’s motivations and commenting on how issues encountered during the translating process were resolved.
The Siege and Conquest of Cordoba in the Crónica particular de San Fernando: A Translation and Discussion
This article contains a translation into Modern English and discussion of one chapter from the Crónica particular de San Fernando, a fourteenth-century chronicle originally written in medieval Castilian prose, detailing the life of King Ferdinand III of Castile-Leon (r. 1217/1232 – 1252). The chapter tells of the siege and conquest of Cordoba, a key victory for the Christians in the Reconquista campaign, and a sorry loss for the Moors. The article first gives a short description of the chapter and the methodology behind the translation, and then presents the translated chapter in full.
Translated Poems of the Berber Kabylian Poet Si Mohand ou-Mhand (1845–1906)
This paper proposes an English translation of selected poems written by one of the most important Kabyle Berber poets of the 19th century, Si Mohand ou-Mhand. Since this poet is largely unknown to the English-speaking world, the translations are preceded by a historical and cultural context of the poems’ composition, an etymological investigation of the words ‘Berber’ and ‘Kabyle’, and a brief biography of Si Mohand ou-Mhand, who lived under French colonialism.
Recreating Resistance: Translating José Luandino Vieira’s Luuanda
This article critically evaluates the only extant English translation of José Luandino Vieira’s 1964 short story collection Luuanda. I argue that the text presents three clear obstacles to translation: first, the revolutionary attitude that the text has come to symbolise is specific to the political climate of the source culture; second, its language is radically experimental; and third, the form of the text is subversive only with reference to the historico-political context of its country of origin. Through a close examination of Tamara L. Bender’s attempts at negotiating these obstacles for an Anglophone readership, I explore the ways in which cultural difference can be mediated and recreated through translative practices.
‘A Thousand Violins in the Palm of My Hand’: The Suitability of Federico García Lorca’s Poetry for Musical Adaptation
This article examines the suitability of the poetry of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) for musical adaptation, and particularly its value in constructing an operatic libretto. The article first considers the technical and cultural aspects of Lorca’s writing, drawing on the treatment of Lorca’s poem ‘Malagueña’ by the American composer George Crumb in his 2010 work The Ghosts of Alhambra. I will then explore more general questions of how text can be dramatised through music, using Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade, a setting of an excerpt of Goethe’s Faust for voice and piano, as well as Verdi’s La Traviata, itself an adaptation of Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the implications for my own treatment of Lorca’s poetry, in the context of my personal praxis as a composer.