Comptes rendus de lecture

Jean Delisle (dir.). Portraits de traductrices. Ottawa, Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, coll. “Regards sur la traduction” / Arras, Artois Presses Université, coll. “Traductologie”, 2002. viii + 408 p.[Notice]

  • Denise Merkle

…plus d’informations

  • Denise Merkle
    Université de Moncton

Patriarchy has traditionally condemned women to silence, considering them unintelligent and uneducable. Yet exceptional women throughout history, often supported by their unconventional fathers and other male figures as certain Portraits de traductrices reveal, have left writings— translations and original works—that clearly show not only the extent to which they benefited from their respective educations, but also their unquestionable intelligence. Not surprisingly, patriarchal versions of history tend to remember the more non-conformist of these women in depreciatory and deprecatory terms (e.g., Madame Pompon-Newton) —more interested in their love interests or eccentricities than in their intellectual accomplishments—or to forget them, remembering rather their husbands and their sons (e.g., Jane Elgee Wilde). Only on rare occasions has history taken an interest in their translation activity. This collection brings the many and varied contributions of women translators from out of the shadows, each portrait presenting a detailed account of the life and legacy of an extraordinary woman who has left posterity noteworthy translations, among other writings. A number of the translators included in the collection and their translations have already been studied in books, theses or articles, e.g., Anne Dacier, Émilie du Châtelet, Albertine Necker de Saussure, Clémence Royer, Jane E. Smith, Eleanor Marx, as confirmed by the list of sources following each portrait. The originality of this publication lies in bringing together in a single publication exclusively feminine translating subjects and in its study of the ideological imprint left by the translator on her translations, the contributors, in Jean Delisle’s words, having “su peindre en nuances des traductrices indissociables de leur oeuvre (Delisle, 10).” Bruno Garnier’s portrait of France’s Anne Dacier, née Le Fèvre (1647-1720), paints the picture of a woman whose considerable intellectual ability was nurtured by her Protestant father, her life partner André Dacier also supporting her in her philological activities. This woman of independent mind would develop a personal method of translation that emphasized faithfulness to the source language text and a target text that ensured the broadest possible readership. Her method resulted in a dispute with La Motte over how to translate Homer. Madame Dacier translated many Latin and Greek classics, and her scholarly translation of Homer was considered authoritative until the early twentieth century. Amela Sanz paints a portrait of France’s Anne de La Roche-Guilhem (1644-1707), a Huguenot refugee exiled in England with her two younger and sickly sisters, and who, as a woman and a Huguenot, is absent from the history books, making documentation about her life hard to find. The eldest de La Roche daughter was born in the Protestant city of Rouen that had a large Spanish-speaking population. With access to some of France’s best teachers and to three times more books than those educated in Catholic cities, Anne received a solid education, learning Spanish and reading Spanish literature. Upon the mother’s death, the remaining family moved to Paris in 1664. After the death of their father in 1682, the unmarried daughters fled to London sometime between 1682 and 1685. Mademoiselle de La Roche-Guilhem is known as a writer of fictional works and a rewriter; she penned abridgements, adaptations and target-oriented translations, her first translation from the Spanish, Histoire des guerres civiles de Grenade, completed prior to 1663 and published in 1683 in Paris. She would later publish primarily outside France. Agnès Whitfield has contributed a portrait of France’s Émilie du Châtelet, née de Breteuil (1706-1749), translator of Newton, who for far too long was remembered primarily as Voltaire’s lover and given the deprecatory name Mme Pompon-Newton. Émilie was born into Parisian aristocracy; from an early age, she had full access to her parent’s …

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