Clarissa on the Continent

Translation and Seduction

By (author) Thomas O. Beebee

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 August 1990

Length of book:

244 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271026169

"Clarissa" on the Continent defines and explores two strategies of literary translation—creative vs. preservative and strong vs. weak—as they transform one of the most influential English novels. Thomas Beebee compares the two opposing strategies as they influence the French translation of Clarissa by the novelist Antione François de Prévost and the German translation by the Göttingen Orientalist Johann David Michaelis, and in doing so he demonstrates that each translator found authority for his procedure within the text itself. Each translation is also examined in light of Richardson's other writings and placed in its literary and cultural context.

This study uses translations in order to interpret Clarissa, to show how the basis for the novel's reception on the Continent was laid, and to explore the differences and interactions among three literary and cultural systems of the eighteenth century. The close examination of these two important translations enable the formulation of not only a theory of creative vs. preservative translation but also the interconnections between literary theory and translation theory. Beebee also looks at later translations of Clarissa as products of literary and historical change and at Prévostian strategies of the novel.

“No one can read this book with any degree of care and not find a stream of useful perceptions (and information) about Beebee’s tricorned eighteenth-century universe (England, France, and Germany). Not that the book is limited to eighteenth-century matters: both the use and discussion of theory, throughout the manuscript, and the good final chapter, in which a historical overlay is added, broaden the scope and utility of Beebee’s work, making it challenging and important reading for anyone interested in Richardson or the eighteenth-century, in translation theory and practice, in the comparative history of the novel, and also in the relevance and even the truth of much of modern literary theory.”

—Burton Raffel, University of Southwestern Louisiana