Goethe and the 'Werther Sonnets' of Romantic-era Women Writers

Aishah Al-Shatti
Kuwait University

1.        In an age of intense cross-cultural exchange, cyber communication, and an increased critical interest in the effects of transnationalism and cultural integration, it is not only important but also necessary to expose our students to foreign texts in translation. Such an exercise yields many benefits: a) it allows our students to situate the texts that they read within a broader context that is not delimited by national and linguistic barriers, b) it forces them to think about how texts are transferred across borders through translation, to be received and assimilated in different cultures, c) it causes them to be more aware of the intercultural and transnational exchanges between nations, and finally d) it allows them to think about the factors that are conducive and obstructive with regard to the processes of translation, appropriation, and intertextuality.

2.        This exercise is even more important in our courses on Romanticism, primarily because Romanticism was an international movement at inception. Our students can only grasp the transnational parameters of Romanticism if we allow them to perceive the reception of its texts within a greater European context, thus allowing the intricate web of intercultural connections between European writers to be more visible. Of course, this practice initiates a discussion of the different layers of intertextual exchange and adaptation; as David Higgins has pointedly remarked, the objective of introducing European texts into our Romantic courses is to allow our students to discover "the extent to which European authors and texts of the Romantic period were in dialogue with one another, and the limitations of examining literature solely through the lens of national culture and tradition" (58). The introduction of European texts will also overcome many of the problems caused by subjecting our curricula to Anglocentric practices, such as grossly omitting aspects of Romanticism in the literary histories provided in class and providing our students with a simplified view of Romanticism that does not consider its wide-ranging and transnational spectrum.

3.        Historicist and feminist reassessments of the Romantic canon have reshaped the manner in which the literature of the Romantic period is read and taught. More works by Romantic-era women writers are being introduced, and we are now more aware of their important contributions to the literary landscape of this era, which cannot be solely represented by the "Big Six." Usually, works by women are read either in isolation from the traditional, biased Romantic canon or within it, but their works are rarely read as part of their European context. There are many good reasons for teaching our students works by women alongside texts by their European contemporaries: such teaching demonstrates that women were major consumers, translators, and critics of foreign literatures, illustrates the manner in which they read and reacted to these texts, clarifies the role that they played in disseminating and assimilating these texts, and, most importantly, introduces a third dimension to the literary history of Romanticism that has long been overlooked in our pedagogical practices, that is, the interconnectedness of British Romanticism and German literature. As Michael Ferber has noted, the "fatherlands of Romanticism were indisputably English and German" ("Introduction" , European Romantic Poetry xxxvii), with the writers of both nations turning away from the classicism of French models and instead reading translations of each other's national literatures in search of new models. In a module that invites students to read Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther alongside sonnets by women writers who were inspired by this book, I aim to expose the students to Romantic-era European texts to demonstrate how women writers were not passive readers of continental texts, but rather, "transcreative" cosmopolitan readers who conversed with and adapted European texts to suit their target readership in their native culture.

4.        German literature occupies a special position in the development of Romanticism in Europe, and any course on Romanticism that does not touch on its influence sidesteps an important chapter in the literary history of this period. It is in the texts of the Sturm und Drang movement that many of the features that came to be associated with Romanticism are found: rebellion against traditional models, a strong interest in nature and solitude, sensibility, and the incorporation of biographical elements into fictional texts—such ideas, themes, and tropes were assimilated in different manners by European writers throughout the Romantic period. Because of its impact on the European literature of its time, I recommend the inclusion of Goethe's Werther in our curricula: the work functions as a fine introduction to Romanticism because, in terms of chronology and historical importance, it is one of the foundational texts that introduces students to some of the major features of Romanticism and simultaneously illustrates how these features were transferred and assimilated transnationally.

5.        In class, Goethe's Werther can also stimulate discussions on the creative processes of translation and appropriation because it is a novella that contains a translation of a forged translation—Werther's translations of selections from Macpherson's Ossian. Discussion of these imbedded translations allows the instructor to introduce Goethe's contribution to eighteenth-century translation theory: his specification of the three types of translation. In addition, the manner in which the text was appropriated in a different form and register, the sonnet form, allows the instructor to discuss whether the sonnets on Werther can be regarded as early instances of "transcreation," that is, a creative translation that includes elements of its origin and at the same time, introduces to it new elements that allow it to be easily accepted in the receiving culture.

6.        Goethe's Werther is also an interesting example of a text's effect on the reception in another culture of the national literature with which it is associated. Published in 1774, The Sorrows of Young Werther not only made Goethe one of the most celebrated writers in eighteenth-century Europe but also began one of the most heated debates at that time over the impact of a book on the reading public. Instigating the phenomenon of "Werthermania," the book left a deep impression on its readers and moved many to imitate Werther's dress, excessive sentimentality and—as the book's critics claimed—suicide. Anxious responses and debates on its detrimental impact prompted Anna Barbauld, for instance, to single it out, along with Schiller's The Robbers, as a chief text marking a turning point in the reception of German literature in England. Formerly considered an excellent source of models for literary composition, German literature came to be viewed as a source of dangerous texts (Barbauld 28-9). Equally interesting is that these negative responses to the book were echoed in discussions of female education and conflated the reading of it with female indulgence and promiscuity, as Jacqueline Pearson has explained: "Reading Werther was accused of encouraging self-indulgent sexuality and transgression of traditional femininity as well as suicide [. . .]. In fiction, its readers will be self-indulgent, immoral, or at best immature women" (73).

7.        In England, the book inspired a countless number of imitations, appropriations, rewritings, and parodies that crossed generic, geographic, and linguistic barriers. These imitations presented different readings of the book, which were, in turn, subjected to various readings and interpretations. Many of these imitations appeared as poems that attacked the work for its seemingly apologetic stance on suicide and for the unorthodox behavior of its characters. Other appropriations articulated a more sympathetic view of Werther's sufferings and highlighted moral aspects embedded in the book. Women poets in England contributed to this cultural debate by addressing—in sonnet form—some of the issues raised by the admirers and detractors of Werther. As part of the module on Goethe's Werther, I require my students to examine sonnets by women writers who were influenced by the book. Among many things, this examination of the sonnets will illustrate the various appropriations that emerged, women writers' contributions to these appropriations, and how these contributions were shaped by varying factors, such as literary marketing and aesthetic judgment.

8.        Most of the students taking my course on "Romantic and Victorian Poetry" are in their third or fourth undergraduate year and are native speakers of Arabic who speak English as a second language. By the time they take this course, they have completed courses in comparative literature, world literature, translation studies, and literary British history. Such a background proves highly useful when discussing translation and what it entails as a cultural process. Additionally, as Middle-eastern readers of Western texts, they are also more perceptive of the manner in which readers approach and respond to foreign texts. The course description states that the aim of the class is to deepen students' understanding of British poetry written in the nineteenth century through reading assignments that pair texts by men and women that reflect the themes, issues, and poetic forms that dominated the century. Considering the short timeframe in which this course must be taught—poetry produced in both the Romantic and Victorian periods must be covered within a span of three months—I tend to opt for primary texts that have made an indelible mark on the poetry written during these two periods and secondary texts that can be valuable reference sources for my students throughout the semester.

9.        I usually dedicate one week, that is, three one-hour lessons, of the module to Werther. Below is a list of readings assigned for each day.

  • DAY ONE:
    • Primary Text:
      • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Michael Hulse. London: Penguin Books, 1989.

    • Secondary Texts: There are many sources that can be used to provide students with sufficient background on the book's reception in both Germany and England. Below are some of the secondary readings that can be used for this purpose:
      • General Reception
        • Duncan, Bruce. Goethe's Werther and the Critics.

      • Impact on Women Readers
        • Pearson, Jacqueline. Women's Reading in Britain: 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation.
        • More, Hannah. From Moral Sketches of Prevailing Opinions and Manners: Unprofitable Reading.

  • DAY TWO:
    • Primary Texts:
      • Charlotte Smith's Sonnets 21-25 supposed to be written by Werther.
      • Anna Seward's "Written in the Blank Page of the Sorrows of Werter" and "Advice to Mrs Smith: A Sonnet."
      • Poems, prefaces, letters, and reviews focusing on Werther or imitations of it in a course packet. Of particular interest are the texts by Amelia Pickering, Lady Wallace, William James, Alexander Thompson, Mary Hays, Hannah More, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

    • Primary Text:
      • Goethe's writings on translation from André Lefevere's Translation/History/Culture: A Sourcebook

    • Secondary Text: The aim of these texts is to acquaint the students with the complex etymological history of the word Romanticism, the Lovejoy-Wellek debate on the definition of Romanticism, and the theoretical and critical attempts to overcome the challenges of defining European Romanticism as a category:
      • Christoph Bode's "Europe" in Romanticism: An Oxford Guide.
      • Michael Ferber's introductions to European Romantic Poetry and A Companion to European Romanticism.
      • Robyn L Schiffman's "A Concert of Werthers"

Day 1

10.        I begin the first class by asking questions about the character of Werther; using the white board, I ask my students to describe him. The usual responses I receive from students are as follows: lonely—obsessed—emotional—suicidal—feminine—neurotic—failed seducer—naïve—self-obsessed—egotistic. Then, I ask my students to examine this list of descriptions and think about how such a character triggered the phenomenon of "Werthermania." What made him such an appealing character to the extent that imitations and adaptations were created? Students respond differently to this question. They point to the reader's readiness to be possessed by a character to the point of imitation, indicating that an individual's psychological predisposition is essential if the book is to have an effect. Others refer to the book's autobiographical content, as Goethe's personal experience may have been shared by some of his contemporaries, which explains the copy-cat suicides that it supposedly encouraged: "it is not because they saw Werther in themselves, but because they saw themselves in Werther," as one of my students expressed it.

11.        I then turn my students' attention to the literary market into which the book was introduced: what makes such a book so marketable/sellable? What makes any book a bestseller? Again, I receive different responses to this question, which address the book's narrative technique, genre, and target readership. Students point to the epistolary form as a possible reason; to use their words, "reading a book in letters is much easier than reading a book divided into chapters" / "the book is an early version of the romantic novels that fill our bookshops today. Though the theme of unrequited love is frequently revisited in world literatures and is almost overdone, there are always readers who are interested in such stories and long for more, which explains why romantic novels are still sellable today; it has a market."

12.        With this thought regarding target readership in their minds, I ask my students to think about gender and the various warnings and criticisms directed at the book: why did critics at the time feel that this book was particularly dangerous for female readers? Here, I turn their attention to contemporary remarks found in the reception history given by Duncan. Duncan points to early critical responses that connected the book to the rise of suicide, and many reviews referred to the interesting case of a Miss Glover who committed suicide in which a copy of the book was found under her pillow (21). Regardless of the veracity of this incident, the connection drawn between Werther's suicide and suicide among women is most telling because these early reviewers viewed women readers as being particularly susceptible to the influence of the characters of the book.

13.        To understand what was classified as a dangerous or safe text for female readers and how foreign texts have influenced such a classification, I ask students to turn to Pearson's section "Translations and Reading in Foreign Languages," which discusses how foreign literature was viewed and how their female readers were perceived. Pearson notes that Werther was considered one of the "most dangerous texts in the period's index librorum prohibitorum" and that this view intensified after the French Revolution, as female characters who read it were depicted as "self-indulgent, immoral, or at best immature women" (73). To give the students an idea of what contemporary British writers and educators thought of foreign texts such as Werther, I ask them to examine the passage on German literature from Hannah More's Strictures on Female Education, which provides insight into how foreign literature was viewed:

Among the overflowing number of fictitious writings, not a few are there in the English, and still more and worse in the French and German schools, in which the intrigue between the already married hero and heroine is opened by means so apparently innocent, and conducted so gradually, and with so much plausibility, as, for a time, to escape detection. (117)
The first translation of Werther into English was created from a French translation, which renders it doubly pernicious in the eyes of conservatives such as Hannah More because it conveys French excesses and German customs. The discussion usually turns to the character of Charlotte and how she was considered a bad role model whom women were to avoid. In Hannah More's words, students perceive the underlying ideological construction of separate gender spheres for men and women. The tragedy in Werther could have been avoided if Werther and Charlotte did not often associate. Students go further, arguing that placing the blame on Charlotte's conduct is symptomatic of the sexual prejudices of the time. At this point, I turn the students' attention to the novel's narrative structure: with the exception of the few comments provided by the editor of Werther's letters, the story is told primarily through the eyes of Werther. How would the narrative be different had the story been told through the eyes of Charlotte? So I end this session by asking my students to think about how women writers responded to the book and what their responses tell us about their reactions as readers and writers. Additionally, I ask them to consider how women writers utilized the book and its reception in their sonnets.

14.        Overall, this first session aims to acquaint the students with the book and its reception in England. Particular attention is given to the depictions of its two main characters, Werther and Charlotte, because of their centrality to the debate regarding the book's perilous impact on its readers. Addressing the popularity of the book also alerts the students to the market craze it generated, which prompted many writers to imitate and/or rewrite the book, as the assigned readings for the following class will illustrate. The secondary readings assigned for this session provide an overview of the book's reception in England and how its impact on female readers was perceived. In reading Hannah More's warning regarding the detrimental impact of German literature on gender relations, students will better understand how reading was considered an important component of women's education and moral judgment and the resulting view that their readings had to be carefully guarded. These secondary readings also provide information about the connections that were made concerning women, their bodies, and their readings and how reading was used in the construction and perpetuation of fixed gender roles and separate gender spheres. Pearson's remarks on how Werther, in particular, was viewed as a dangerous text causes students to realize the extent of the book's infamy, the negative associations it came to carry, and the way it was used to represent women in fiction by indicating the lax morality of the fictional female characters who read it.

Day 2

15.        I dedicate this session to a close examination of the sonnets on Werther written by women writers, with the purpose of answering the questions with which I ended the previous class. At the beginning of the class, I ask the students whether they find that the assigned readings' treatment of Goethe's book was faithful or liberal. Then, I invite them to identify both obvious and subtle differences between the novel and the sonnets, on the one hand, and between the sonnets themselves, on the other hand.

16.        Students quickly perceive many interesting devices in these appropriations: retelling the story through the eyes of Charlotte, inserting another fictional character in whom Charlotte confides, providing alternative endings to the novel that depict Charlotte visiting Werther's grave or even describe the ghosts of Werther or Charlotte as haunting Werther's grave. Students invariably find this insistence on rewriting the novel intriguing. I respond in turn with the following question: what do these rewritings tell us about the public's reactions to characterization and the book's ending? Students highlight the various views and readings of the book that circulated, which are reflected in these appropriations: some writers found it necessary to deflect what they perceived as the dangerous impact of a highly popular text, whereas others perceived a visible moral dimension that was worth highlighting. Many of these conflicting views revolved around Werther's suicide and the subtext that the novel appears to convey regarding this incident. Many of these appropriations capitalize on the novel's popularity and are attempts to attract its readership.

17.        At this point, I shift students' attention to the sonnets on Werther by Charlotte Smith and Anna Seward: I ask how these sonnets reflect the manner in which these women writers read the novel and perhaps even ask them to indicate the lines that they believe reveal their reactions as readers. The students find Smith's writings very savvy in the sense that they capitalize on the popularity of the text and, at the same time, avoid its contentious aspects; for instance, she is curiously silent regarding Werther's suicide, and her semi-impersonation of the female character in the sonnet is consistent with the general theme of her Elegiac Sonnets.

18.        When turning to Seward's poems, students find her remarks on Werther fascinating: in one poem, she condemns Smith's appropriation of Werther and, in another, she defends the book. Seward's "Advice to Mrs Smith: A Sonnet" criticizes Smith for her use of foreign texts in her sonnets: "It ill befits that verse like thine should tell / Of Petrarch's love, or Werther's frantic pain! / Let not or foreign taste or tales enchain." However, in her note to "Written in the Blank Page of the Sorrows of Werter" Seward compares the book to Shakespeare's Othello, arguing that "neither the play, nor the novel, can justly be taxed with having an immoral tendency." At this point, I attempt to push my students to further examine Seward's reactions: her rejection of the inscription of foreign texts in the works of fellow compatriots and her advice on how these foreign texts are to be read. To Seward, it is not the book's moral message that is disquieting, but rather, how translations of foreign texts are to be read, interpreted, and assimilated in her native literature. Students relate easily to Seward's position, referring to Arabic films, which in imitation of Western films, were purposely expurgated of elements deemed too improper to suit the preferences and traditions of the target audience. The film had to be adapted to an Arab audience, or "Arabized," as one of the students phrased it. Such a discussion provides an opportunity to ask the students to think about translation and how it is an extended process that does not stop in the mind of the translator, but rather, extends to involve the minds of the readers. Readers react and interpret to translations in multifarious and even oppositional ways, with each group of readers invoking a particular aspect of the translation that suits their ideological convictions. Of course, such reading practices convert these translations into subjects of ideological debate, in which thoughts on gender, tradition, and morality are contested, revised, and subverted. These differences increase the students' awareness of how translation "is a channel opened, often without a certain reluctance, through which foreign influences can penetrate the native culture, challenge it, and even contribute to subverting it" (Lefevere 2). If time allows, this revelation is used to instigate a discussion on how translation can be viewed as a creative act, so I end this session by asking my students to think about the thin line that demarcates the processes of "translation" and "transcreation."

19.        The central focus of this session is to expose the students to examples of poems inspired by Goethe's Werther, with the aim of encouraging them to read these appropriations in view of the book's early reception in England, as covered in the previous session. These poems give a general overview of the different ways in which writers addressed the book's controversial content as they rendered it in verse. Through different narratives that supplement the original ending or provide alternative viewpoints of the events, these writers aimed to tame the book and acculturate it to suit the target readership. Thus, the poems used in this session register the various literary appropriations of the book and represent the readings and counter-readings of a foreign text.

20.        The poems by Smith and Seward illustrate how this translated book became a site of readerly intersections; whereas Smith transcribes the translation in sonnet form, Seward rejects it. These poems also present two striking instances of women writers using a problematic foreign text in a savvy way to simultaneously attract its readership and avoid its critics. The two different positions reflected in their appropriations (Smith's silence about the suicide and Seward's concern about foreign influences on national literature) testify to the active involvement of women writers in the debate surrounding the book's relation to gender, women readers, and foreign literature.

21.        The sonnets based on their readings of Werther demonstrate the creativity with which Smith and Seward used a foreign text to express their thoughts on aesthetic judgment and national literature. Although both employed the sonnet form for appropriating or commenting on the book, each writer conveyed a distinctly different reaction indicative of how she read and interpreted the book. Smith's sonnets reveal her shrewdness in terms of navigating the literary market and utilizing a popular text in her Elegiac Sonnets. Although Seward chastises Smith for basing her sonnets on a foreign text in her own poems, she later argues that the manner of one's reading determines the way in which the book is to be interpreted.

Day 3

22.        During the final session of this module, the central focus of the discussion is on these issues: translation, transcreation, and defining European Romanticism. I begin by referring the students to Goethe's interesting description of translation as a marketplace, where all nations present their cultural contributions. To Goethe, the translator is the "mediator in this general spiritual commerce and who has chosen it as his calling to advance the interchange," and any translation "is and remains one of the most important and dignified enterprises in the general commerce of the world" ("Writings on Literature" 25), despite any deficiencies that it might have. Students cannot help but make connections among Goethe's words, the translations of Ossian in Werther, and the translation of his work in England. It is the existence of a ready market abroad as a conducive factor that allowed for the transmission of these works across borders, as is the case with Macpherson's Ossian and Goethe's Werther. Of course, this transmission can take different forms and is conducted for different purposes.

23.        We then move to Goethe's description of the three stages of translation. During the first stage, the translator "acquaints us with foreign countries on our own terms" ("Book of East and West" 75), in the second, he aims to "appropriate foreign content and reproduce it in his own sense" and, in the third and most superior, he aims "to make the original identical with the translation, so that one should be valued not instead of the other, but in the other's stead" (76). I ask my students to pinpoint what distinguishes these three stages and, naturally, they tend to focus on the part played by the translator and the extent to which he creatively adapts the book, so I ask them to examine the other side of the equation: the readers receiving the translation. Under the pressure exerted by his publisher and the reading public, a translator would certainly strive to cater to the preferences of the target audience. However, the conditions under which the translator produces a translation are variably different from the conditions under which his translation is eventually read, and Anna Seward's point in that regard is clear: although Werther was perceived as an immoral text, one can argue that it has didactic and moral overtones.

24.        At this point, I turn the students' attention to the textual context in which a translation is presented to the reader by asking them about the translation of Ossian that is contained in Werther. These imbedded translations of Ossian are included not only to reveal or accentuate an additional dimension of Werther's character but perhaps also to fulfill multiple other functions: as a popular text, Ossian already had a readership and a market outside England. These translations also draw attention to the creative reworking of a translation weaved into the narrative structure of a work of fiction. Therefore, this imbedded translation—just like the imitations of Werther that surfaced all over Europe—are instances of strategic marketing that exploit a literary trend to the optimum level. It is necessary to remind the students that Ossian was presented to the reading public as a translation, and this is not the only case in which original writings were presented to the public as translations of foreign texts; Horace Walpole and William Beckford use the same device in The Castle of Otranto and Vathek, respectively.

25.        The discussion of forged translations leads to series of important questions: why claim that a text is a translation when, in fact, it is not? What types of barriers faced by original texts are overcome by translations? What do these forged translations tell us about the status of translations in comparison with native texts? These questions will ultimately touch on the factors and conditions that contribute to the need for a particular translation of a foreign text: demands of the marketplace, exposure to foreign cultures, pedagogical purposes, and so on. However, students must be made aware of the power relations that underlie these factors and shape the conditions surrounding a translation, and it is useful to remind them of their previous readings of prefaces by imitators of Werther that either addressed a patron or appealed to the tastes, preferences, and morality of the reading public to justify these imitations. In other words, those imitators strived to rework Werther within their national culture and not against it.

26.        By starting this session with a discussion of Goethe's theories on translation, especially his idea of translation as an international market of cultural exchange, students are made aware of Goethe's connection to translation studies, both as translator and theorist, from the start. This awareness is important because his views on translation will assist them in understanding how he views his translation of a forged translation, Ossian, within Werther as participation in the world's literary market. To some extent, the demands of this world literary market determine the methods employed by translators to reproduce a text for a target audience. The three stages of producing a translation outlined by Goethe provide insight into some of these methods and the creative dimension they entail.

27.        Nevertheless, Goethe does not prioritize how the reading public will read a given translation. For this reason, it is crucial to alert the students to this particular perspective in the process of translation, as the entire module rests on the different ways in which readers read, interpreted, and appropriated Werther in their writings. The poems covered in the previous session are clear and significant examples of how a translation may be read and subsequently used: a dominant reading that condemns the text and two different readings reflected in the writings of two prominent female poets of the time—Smith's reading eschews the problematic parts of the text highlighted by the dominant reading, and Seward's reading runs counter to the dominant reading of the text. The discussion of using translations of Ossian, Werther, and women's responses to them necessitates a shift in focus to the term "European Romanticism," which has been used as a rubric under which texts written in the Romantic period in Europe are assigned.

28.        The discussion of the translation of Ossian inserted into Werther and forged translations turns to the multiple points of interconnection and exchange between British literature and foreign literatures and how these points of interconnection constitute the foundation of what is critically termed "European Romanticism." Any module that focuses on texts produced by Romantic-era European writers must therefore touch upon this critical category. This consideration provides an opportunity to address briefly the critical discussions of European Romanticism in the assigned readings and examine attempts to tackle the question of whether "European Romanticism" exists as a category. Reading these theoretical discussions also cultivates in our students a critical awareness of the difficulties and challenges arising from attempts to define "European Romanticism" when the texts grouped under its rubric are too diverse and dissonant. Both Bode and Ferber resort to Wittgenstein's notion of "family resemblances" to resolve the problem of a movement such as Romanticism that is characterized by a uniform diversity. Another useful term, "contagion," is used by Schiffman in her discussion of imitations of Werther (209). "Contagion" underscores the course and extent of transmission and can perhaps be extended to refer to the migratory features critics attribute to "European Romanticism." These terms touch upon different levels of intertextual exchange: family resemblances relate to integration and genealogy, whereas contagion relates to transmission and diffusion. However, all of these levels of intertextual exchange were made possible through translation, as students have seen in the primary texts assigned for this module. Therefore, it is impossible to think of European Romanticism without considering the vital role played by translation that rendered it conceivable as a category. To discuss European Romanticism is to discuss the rich and dynamic network of cross-translations and "transcreations" that allowed for the transfer and assimilation of these texts beyond their national borders. Thus, any of the influences produced by "contagion" and affinities explained by "family resemblances" are direct results of the creative process of translation. If the category "European Romanticism" was initially created to explain why texts produced in different cultures at approximately the same time were similar, this module will reveal to the students one of the processes by which these texts became similar.

29.        Because this module traces how a text crossed borders by translation and was subsequently used by female writers from a different culture in a creative manner, it becomes important to initiate a discussion on "European Romanticism" as a category that explains such points of interconnection among European texts in the Romantic era. In addition, the discussion of this term may prove useful if other primary texts resulting from European cultural exchange, such as British works inspired by Stael's Corrine and Goethe's Tasso, are introduced later in the course.

30.        When a critical category such as "European Romanticism" is presented in class, it is critical that students understand its history and read some of the theoretical discussions surrounding it. One can also encourage students to use their experiences as readers of Romantic-era texts from Europe to reflect on these theoretical terms. This is a useful exercise because it teaches students to view their readings of Smith and Seward's sonnets and their understanding of the factors that led to the production of these sonnets (for example, the impact of the market, the reading public, and patronage) within a theoretical perspective that considers the intertextual exchanges between literary works produced by Romantic-era writers in Europe.

31.        Overall, the module calls attention to the three components of the translation process: the text, the translator, and the readers. It also illustrates the role of market demands in the production and creative use of a translation and the attempts made by women writers to appropriate a popular translated text and produce their own transcreations. Finally, the module I propose here is designed in consideration of constraints of time and course scope, but it can be easily reconfigured to suit additional pedagogical demands. My objectives were primarily to eliminate one of the few pedagogical gaps in our surveys of literary history and to reveal to students literary connections that can be easily overlooked. The simultaneous teaching of works by British women writers and foreign writers appears to satisfy these objectives.

Works Cited

Barbauld, Anna Letitia. The British Novelists. British Women Writers of the Romantic Period: An Anthology of Their Literary Criticism. Ed. Mary A. Waters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

Bode, Christoph. "Europe." Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. Ed. Nicholas Roe. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

Duncan, Bruce. "First Responses." Goethe's Werther and the Critics. New York: Camden House, 2005. 7-28. Print.

Ferber, Michael. "Introduction." European Romantic Poetry. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. Xxxvii-lvii. Print.

Ferber, Michael. "Introduction." A Companion to European Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 1-9. Print.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Michael Hulse. London: Penguin, 1989. Print.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. "Writings on Literature." Translation / History / Culture: A Sourcebook. Ed. André Lefevere. London: Routledge, 1992. 24-25. Print.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. "Book of East and West." Translation / History / Culture: A Sourcebook. Ed. André Lefevere. London: Routledge, 1992. 75-76. Print.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. "Writings on Literature." Translation / History / Culture: A Sourcebook. Ed. André Lefevere. London: Routledge, 1992. 74-78. Print.

Higgins, David. "European Romanticism." Teaching Romanticism. Ed. David Higgins and Sharon Ruston. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 49-61. Print.

Lefevere, André, ed. Translation / History / Culture: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.

More, Hannah. From Moral Sketches of Prevailing Opinions and Manners: Unprofitable Reading. Women Romantics 1785-1832: Writing in Prose. Ed. Jennifer Breen. London: Everyman, 1996. 113-17. Print.

Pearson, Jacqueline. Women's Reading in Britain: 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

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Seward, Anna. "Written in the Blank Page of the Sorrows of Werter." The Poetical Works of Anna Seward: With Extracts from Her Literary Correspondence. Ed. Walter Scott. 3 vols. Edinburgh: Ballantyne, 1810. 130-32. Print.

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Published @ RC

July 2014