Poetica on Takamiya Collection at Beinecke

Just received notice of Poetica vol. 91/92 (2019) devoted to the Takamiya Collection at Yale University’s Beinecke Library. 

Screen Shot 2019-12-31 at 12.06.18 PM

Boje’s Reflections on Translating The Canterbury Tales into Afrikaans

by Candace Barrington

2017-11-17 07.56.57Without the enthusiastic help and support of Chaucer’s many living translators, the Global Chaucers project would have had a much narrower scope. From the beginning, the practical insights and experiences of these translators have tempered and shaped our theoretical perspectives.

One of the first translators to share his thoughts about translating the The Canterbury Tales was John Boje of Pretoria, South Africa. Boje began translating the Tales when he was still a schoolboy. In 1989, he published a volume of selected tales–‘n Keur Uit Die Pelgrimsverhale van Geoffrey Chaucer–which made it past the government’s censors and received a surprising number of accolades. Over the next 25 years, he continued to translate until he had completed all the tales.  His translation project–worked on during a sixty-year period spanning the time during and after the apartheid regime–provided an unusual device for commenting on the upheaval and injustices around him.

During 2013 and 2014, we had a lively exchange, wherein my “simple” questions (such as “How did you handle metaphors?”) prompted lengthy, lively and thoroughly thoughtful responses from him. Seeing one of his notes in my inbox was always a treat. We learned a great deal from him about translation as well as the peculiar situation of translating from Middle English to Afrikaans, a modern language not too distantly related to Chaucer’s language yet fraught in its relationship to the other languages of South Africa.

Aspects of Boje’s translation and his astute perceptions have made their way into several Global Chaucers essays, articles, and book chapters that Jonathan Hsy and I have written.  But until now, few of Boje’s own reflections have made their way into print. This week, I learned that his University of Pretoria doctoral thesis, “‘Save our tonges difference’: Reflections on translating Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales into Afrikaans,” has been accepted by the examining faculty. Finally, Boje’s engaging account of his translation is ready to share.

I read a near-complete draft last June and was impressed by his exploration and assessment (using an auto-ethnographic approach) of the translator’s role and the challenges faced when the “stock value” of the source text seems to be declining. And though he had not made much recourse to translation theory while translating, his thesis demonstrates his trenchant understanding of the various theoretical paradigms and how they allow him to view his project from those perspectives. I was delighted to see that his examiners concurred. Congratulations, John!

Chaucer & Europe: Biennial London Chaucer Conference, 28-29 June 2019

Screen Shot 2019-07-12 at 2.32.21 PM
World Map by Ranulf Higden, British Library, Royal MS. 14 C.IX, ff.1v-2r.

by Candace Barrington

The 2019 Biennial London Chaucer Conference was held 28-29 June at St Bride’s Foundation, not far from where Wynken de Worde established his Fleet Street press (soon after printing his 1498 The Canterbury Tales in Westminster). The conference’s announced theme, Chaucer and Europe, only hints at the deeply international nature of the presentations, as I think the following summaries of select papers suggest. 

David Wallace opened the proceedings with his plenary “Italy Made Me: Chaucer and Europe,” reminding us that the essential anti-Mediterranism at the foundation of Chaucer Studies (see for example Lewis’s “What Chaucer Really Did to Il Filostrato”), with its hard line dividing northern “Germanic” Europe from southern “Latin” Europe, was a useful fiction that does not correlate with the fourteenth-century Europe Chaucer knew. 

In the “Chaucer and Boccaccio” panel, Leah Schwabel’s “‘Oon seyde that Omer made lyes’: Chaucer’s Intertexual Poetics” noted that Chaucer’s failure to identify Boccaccio as his source complied with classical translation practices that obscured and distorted sources; therefore, we should reconsider how we identify intertexual resources and look beyond echoes to modes of borrowing. During the Q&A, Kenneth Clarke reminded us that there is only one extant fourteenth-century manuscript of the Teseide, and that one is Boccaccio’s autograph; no one at the time seems to have read more Boccaccio than Chaucer [correction 7/13/2019*]. Clarke’s own presentation, “Medieval Humanism and Vernacular Poetics: Chaucer, Ovid, And Ceffi,” established that the gamma iteration of Fillipo Ceffi’s Italian translation of Ovid’s Heroides was one of the sources for the Legend of a Good Women, further complicating the network of European texts and books that Chaucer responded to.

In the Chaucer and Machaut panel, Juliette Vuille’s “French Kissing and Ménage à Trois: Machaudian influences in Chaucer’s metapoetic Pandarus” considered what Chaucer learned from Machaut regarding poetic voice and the process of invention. David Levinsky’s “European Peripheries: Machaut and the Monk’s Tale” looks to the tale’s four “modern instances” to consider the limits of exemplary and historical writing. 

The Global Chaucers round table began with Ana Sáez-Hildago’s presentation on the earliest Spanish translation of Chaucer: a 1914 children’s book based on the British Tales from Chaucer. Preceding by seven years a full translation of The Canterbury Tales into Spanish, the small volume went through five printings across five regimes (1914-1956). Candace Barrington introduced some less-obvious Chaucerian influences in Tomáš Zmeškal’s 2008 Milostny dopis klínovym písmem (Love Letter in Cuneiform, translated by Alex Zucker in 2016), whose narrator was shaped by Chaucerian “misdirection.”  Lydia Zeldenrust introduced us to an in-process Frisian translation of

Screen Shot 2019-07-12 at 3.08.29 PM.png
Lydia Zeldenrust. Thank you, David Wallace, for posting this photo on FB.

the Tales. Because Frisian is a marginal language seldom written and with a small written literary tradition, Klaas Bruinsma’s project is to create a foundation of translated works on which to elevate a Frisian literary tradition. (Sounds very Chaucerian!) David Wallace kicked off the room discussion with an insightful response that asked us to consider what this reception history reveals about our own readings of the Tales.

The first day wrapped up with Laura Kendrick’s “Chaucer and Deschamps.”

The conference’s second day opened with a fascinating round table discussing the recently published Middle English Travel: A Critical Anthology, edited by Anthony Bale and Sebastian Sobecki. Designed for undergraduate use, the volume includes essays on travel-related topics, an anthology of medieval travel texts, and contextualizing material (such as maps and charts). Together, the entries help reveal the hitherto underestimated capabilities of these travel writers. 

In the following session entitled “Senses and Emotions,” Eleanor Myerson’s “Mamlūk Spices and Medieval Digestion” stood out for its identification of connections between Chaucer’s family and the spice trade, connections which help elucidate his textual references to the remedial properties of spices. 

After lunch, Patience Agbabi framed her readings from Telling Tales and The Refugee

IMG_5514
Patience Agbabi

Tales with a discussion of the importance of both celebrating verse as well as acknowledging storytelling’s therapeutic effect as a validator of traumatic experiences.

In one of the two final concurrent sessions, “European Afterlives,” Lotte Reinbold’s “A Diluted Drink: Dreaming Troilus and Criseyde” examined how Kynaston’s 1635 Latin translation removes ambiguity in Troilus’ dream of the eagle removing his heart, thereby rendering the text more tragic and suitable to his audience’s tastes. On the same panel, Sarah Salih returned to The Refugee Tales, which indirectly argue that we should be more like our medieval predecessors, making the collection an outlier in the work that the medieval does in the present day. The Refugee Tales is able to make this argument by reimagining the medieval past as a tolerant, multicultural one we’d like to emulate. As Salih makes clear, this sort of recreation doesn’t need to be condemned, but it does need to be correctly contextualized. 

Marion Turner closed the conference with “Chaucer’s European Life.” Chaucer’s diplomatic journeys would have given him a close-up view of more tolerant, multicultural societies such as Naverre. And his bureaucratic jobs in London would have shown him how tightly connected English politics and economics were tied to those on the continent. 

Many thanks to Alastair Bennett and Hetta Howes for putting together an engaging conference that examined Chaucer from a more European perspective. It was a fabulous conference!

[These summaries are from my jet-lagged notetaking at the conference. If I have misrepresented anything, please contact me. I will make the necessary corrections or clarifications.–CB

* Thanks to David Wallace for this correction.]

Marion Turner on the Polylingual Milieu of Chaucer’s Early Years

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 4.44.17 PM
Kilkenny, Ireland.

In a 3 June 2019 article for The Irish Times, Marion Turner reminds us that

Geoffrey Chaucer, often termed the father of English literature, began his career in an Irish household. And, while Chaucer had to work hard to establish English as a literary language in a context in which French and Latin were the prestigious tongues, his employer, Lionel, governor of Ireland, implemented the Statutes of Kilkenny, laws that established a linguistic hierarchy in Ireland – with English very much on top.

Follow this link to read the rest of her article.

Chaucer y España: historia de una reescritura

 

UNAM Mexico City
UNAM’s mezmerizing Central Library

On Monday, April 22, 2019, Prof. Raúl Ariza-Barile delivered the paper “Chaucer y España: historia de una reescrituraat Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. Raúl’s paper is part of a growing, valuable, and relatively recent scholarly trend investigating the Spanish influence and contexts in Chaucer’s work. Critics studying Spanish Chaucer have focused on the author’s well-known mission to Navarre and the subsequent literary response in the Monk’s Tale via the brief segment on King Pedro I. Raúl’s paper mentioned this important reference, but argues, in particular, that Chaucer’s (untold) Spanish history might have begun earlier, with the translation and dissemination of scientific texts in Toledo in the twelfth century.

After providing the audience with an historicized overview of the extant scholarship on Chaucer and/in Spain, Raúl suggested that astronomy should be a driving, central aspect when scholars try to reconstruct Chaucer’s Spanish puzzle. A number of Chaucer’s references to astronomy in The Canterbury Tales, for instance, reveal knowledge of texts translated or rewritten in Spain, such as the two versions of the Toledo tables which Chaucer calls “tables Tolletanes” (The Franklin’s Tale, V.1273). Of perhaps greatest

Alfonsine_Prague
A Latin Alfonsine Tables produced in in early 15th century for use in Prague. It updated the 13th-century Castilian Alfonsine Tables, which translated the 11th-century Arabic Toledan Tables. http://aylinmalcolm.com/astro/items/show/13

importance, however, is the textual history contained within A Treatise on the Astrolabe, which Chaucer could not have composed without the existence of treatises originating in Spain. Despite these possible links, Raúl’s talk reminded scholars to proceed cautiously: after all, unearthing the Spanish influence in Chaucer amounts, in many ways, to a work of literary archaeology, simply because Chaucer barely credits Spanish authors or translators in his work. (An exception is his mention of the Toledan astronomer Arzakel, “Arsechieles,” in his Astrolabe 2.45.2)

Raúl concluded his talk by saying that Spain must feature more prominently in Chaucer’s European puzzle, and although we do have excellent (and recent) scholarship that documents Chaucer’s stay in Spain (such as Marion Turner’s Chaucer: A European Life), the time has come for Spanish astronomy to emerge more prominently in this discussion.

Afterlives!

NewCompanionThe 2nd edition of Peter Brown’s A New Companion to Chaucer is now available.  Featuring 36 alphabetically arranged chapter topics–Afterlives, Auctorite, Biography, Bodies, Bohemia, Chivalry, Comedy, Emotion, Ethnicity, Flemings, France, Genre, Ideology, Italy, Language, London, Love, Narrative, Other Thought-Worlds, Pagan Survivals, Patronage, Personal Identity, Pilgrimage and Travel, Religion, Richard II, Science, The Senses, Sexuality, Sin, Social Structures, Style, Texts, Things, Translation, Visualizing, and Women–the volume is noticeably heftier than the 2002 edition.

Currently the companion’s first chapter is freely available for download. In a nice piece of irony that tickles our hearts, that chapter is the one Jonathan and I contributed. Though our chapter “Afterlives” deals those things that come last chronologically, its title comes first alphabetically, making real the injunction that “the last will be first.”

Our deepest appreciate to Carolyn Collette for suggesting we take up the topic in her stead, and our thanks to Peter Brown for incorporating us into his excellent lineup of scholars.

New Chaucer Society 2020 Congress: Call for papers

Durham cfp4

by Candace Barrington

Durham University is hosting the New Chaucer Society’s 2020 Congress, and there’s still time to submit paper proposals. The deadline is 20 May 2019.

Global Chaucers is organizing a lightening talk session on the Histories of Chaucer’s non-Anglophone Receptions (session 2). Jonathan and I invite your proposals exploring the histories of Chaucer’s reception beyond the Anglophone reception. Possible topics include the non-Anglophone, multilingual, or cross-cultural histories of textual transmission; translations and editions; Chaucer in the curriculum; and contributions to scholarship.

While you’re at the NCS website, take a look at Jonathan Fruoco’s session on Chaucer in the Non-Anglophone World: Translations and Cultural Appropriations (session 70).
In addition to these two sessions, many of the other sessions invite papers of global interest.

Please note the two-step process for submitting your proposal: first you register online, then you send your abstract to the session organizer(s). 

Many thanks to the program organizers–Elliot Kendall, Robyn Malo, Mary Flannery, Wan-Chuan Kao, Philip Knox, Myra Seaman, Ruth Evans and Tom Goodmann –for the exciting program. The 2020 Congress in Durham promises to match the international breadth of the 2018 Congress in Toronto! Please join us!