Translation for Beginners, or, Teaching the 'Dangerous' in Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Translation for Beginners, or, Teaching the "Dangerous" in Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Gillian Dow
University of Southampton, UK

1.        In The Rise of the Novel (1957), Ian Watt identifies French fiction from La Princesse de Clèves (1678) to Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) as a tradition that stands "outside the main tradition of the novel" (30). Lafayette's historical romance of thwarted passion and Laclos's epistolary novel of aristocratic excess are the only two French novels mentioned in Watt's study, still, of course, a reference point for current work on the eighteenth-century novel, despite being published over 50 years ago. Recent work on the rise of the novel—such as Mary Helen McMurran's 2009 The Spread of Novels: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Eighteenth Century—certainly challenges Watt's Anglocentric perspective.

2.        Nevertheless, Watt's choice of these two French novels to bookmark the beginning and the end of the "French" eighteenth-century novel is in many ways apt when viewed from a twenty-first-century perspective. La Princesse de Clèves and Les Liaisons Dangereuses are the only novels from this period which can claim a presence in the Anglo-American tradition since the moment of their first publication: both remain in print in English translation, and, as hyper-translated texts, they have long served to represent French fiction of the eighteenth century. One might go so far as to say that Les Liaisons Dangereuses is the "classic" Romantic novel of the 1780s. Although Frances Burney's Cecilia was published in the same year as Les Liaisons Dangereuses and gets an increasing amount of scholarly attention in the classroom, the French novel is the one that the non-specialist reader is likely to have heard of, albeit not read. Yet wariness of teaching literature in translation, and of a French tradition that is "other", means that—in the UK at any rate—Laclos is rarely taught to monolingual Anglophone students on Romanticism programmes. Given the exponential increase in the Romantic “canon” in the last three decades, which now includes women poets from Charlotte Smith to Felicia Hemans, not to mention novels, and Romantic "themes" such as abolitionism, education, revolution, and terror, one cannot be surprised that French fiction of the period 1780-1830 is neglected. Had we but world enough, and time, teachers of Romanticism may well be able to include such work in translation on their programmes. As it is, there are all too frequently other priorities.

3.        This article will attempt to persuade the scholar of Romanticism that it is worth introducing monolingual students to French fiction in translation by giving an account of my experience of teaching Les Liaisons Dangereuses in English to second-year undergraduate students in English Literature at the University of Southampton. The University of Southampton is a large, research-led institution on the south coast of England, a member of the Russell Group of British Universities. Our students in the English literature BA programme are—for the most part—high-achieving, hard-working, dedicated and well-read. But, as a survey I conduct at the very beginning of each class demonstrates, the majority of them come to their studies in English literature without any knowledge of the French language at all. They have never read a French novel of any period (even in translation) and they are largely unable to name a single novelist, playwright, philosopher, or poet from across the channel (Rousseau is occasionally mentioned, but not as frequently as Romanticists might hope). There are many reasons for this, of course—the global dominance of English affects language acquisition and multiculturalism in countries other than the UK. One might argue that there is an indifference to the genre of translation with English speakers. Since 2011, I have directed my students towards David Bellos's lively study Is That a Fish in Your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything for a discussion of this very topic. Bellos points out that monolingual English speakers have very little exposure to literature in translation: Anglo-American publishers do not produce anything like the volume of translations published, say, in France; booksellers do not promote translated works, and, as Bellos puts it, although "translations from English are all over the place[,] translations into English are as rare as hen's teeth" (210). The overall feeling seems to be that since "something is lost" in translation, one might as well not exert oneself. But there are some recent cultural specificities too due to the education system in England.

4.        In England, students at state schools have not been obliged to continue learning a modern language after age 14 since 2002: my own generation of state-school educated students were obliged to take at least one language to age 16, and this was invariably French. The change in the national curriculum has had a devastating effect on tertiary-level education in modern languages: very few of my students now read combined honours in English and a foreign language. It also means fewer General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) in these subjects (the exam taken age 16), and even fewer "A" levels (the exam taken age 18, just before entry to university). There is a steep learning curve for students without this background, and this is something I tackle directly in our 2-hour lecture, and 2-hour seminar discussion on the text, and that I support throughout the course.

5.        Les Liaisons Dangereuses is one of seven or eight texts taught on a second year undergraduate module at Southampton, entitled "Dangerous Readings," when students have completed a year of higher education, and moved on to selecting options for more in-depth study. It was designed by me (my main interests are in comparative literature in the period 1750-1830), a nineteenth-century specialist colleague Mary Hammond, and a medievalist colleague Marianne O'Doherty. As our specialisms might suggest, it is cross-period, and it was always intended to be flexible in terms of the set texts each year. Our shared interests are historic readers, and the module therefore has a strong focus on reception and reader-response theory throughout. For more information, see here.

6.        I wanted to introduce our students to some canonical French texts in translation, and to encourage them to think about the increasing fear of French fiction between 1750-1830—and for the remainder of the nineteenth century. This was a period in which the French novel was losing its former influence over British fiction. Although French novels were sold in London bookshops, and indeed were rapidly translated from French into English, reviewers often only recommended them with caveats. [1]  Sentimental French prose fiction did remain popular in England throughout the period. As Josephine Grieder has explored, from the works of Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni in the 1750s and 1760s to the novels of Sophie Cottin in the 1810s, there was clearly an avid Anglophone readership for this fiction. But French morals, it was felt, corrupted the morals of the implied readers: young women themselves. If a young female character in a work of prose fiction in English—from Lady Augusta in Maria Edgeworth's "Mademoiselle de Panache" (1801) to Lady Juliana in Susan Ferrier's Marriage (1818)—is reading French fiction, she is clearly no better than she should be.

7.        Our students begin their "Dangerous Readings" module with a week of classes on Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote (1752), focusing on Lady Arabella and her reading of French romances ('in very bad translation'). Here, my aim is to encourage them to think about the novel's continental roots: I have yet to encounter a student at Southampton who has read Cervantes, so I give them some passages in a modern translation, and we talk about the popularity of this Spanish work throughout England in the long eighteenth century, looking at passages from Smollett's 1755 translation. I also want my students to consider what might be "dangerous," and what might be liberating, about Arabella's reading, and whether Lennox's novel is truly a rejection of "silly French novels" for the female reader. We then turn to Laclos, and students go on in subsequent weeks to read Northanger Abbey (1818), and both Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856) and Zola's L'Assommoir (1877).

8.        Crucial to the learning aims and objectives for the module is to encourage students to question the effect that the act of translation can have on our own (and indeed contemporary) "readings" of a text. But there are certainly challenges to overcome when teaching a novel for which variant modern translations are currently in print with prestigious presses, not to mention the challenge of teaching an epistolary novel more generally. In the remainder of this article, I will share some of the strategies I have found helpful in the lecture theatre and in the classroom. I will not focus on close readings of the text itself (although students can, and do, choose to provide commentaries on individual letters in the novel as part of their assessment for the module), but rather concentrate on three main areas: situating the novel in what Margaret Cohen and Caroline Dever have called the "Literary Channel," selecting a translation for use in the classroom, and promoting the use of both rare books and online resources.

The Romantic-period Laclos: the Cross-Channel Novel in the 1780s

9.        Some of my students may have seen the film version of Stephen Frears Les Liaisons Dangereuses with Glenn Close and John Malkovich, or indeed Milos Forman's Valmont with Colin Firth and Annette Bening, but since these films date from 1988 and 1989 respectively, they are "classic" cinema for most of my Southampton undergraduates, born post-1990. Even Roger Kumble's rather wonderful 1999 modernization, Cruel Intentions, set in high-school, high-society New York, is not a film they will have grown up with. I point them towards these adaptations much as I relate the oft-repeated anecdote that Marie Antoinette had a copy of the novel in her library (bound without the title or author's name on the cover), and I recommend them not as a substitute for reading the novel, naturally, but rather as evidence of popularity and continued reception. Most of my students respond enthusiastically to the novel itself, once they have got used to the epistolary form. They enjoy it, and they are shocked to be shocked by its themes. Discussions need a tight rein if they are not to descend into character-driven debate about who, between the Vicomte de Valmont and Madame de Merteuil, is the most evil, or whether Cécile de Volanges or Madame de Tourvel is the most "flaky." I find that the emphasis on production, reception, and translation, and on the literary market place when Les Liaisons Dangereuses was first published, helps to focus our attention.

10.        This part of the teaching is largely lecture-led: I need the students to absorb a large amount of material in a short space of time and direct them towards further reading to expand their background knowledge of the period. I start by explaining the importance of the French Enlightenment within eighteenth-century Europe and that French was the educated lingua franca. I highlight the popularity of French fiction in the long eighteenth century and point to the rapidity of translation as evidence of reception—English translations from the French were often published in the year or so after publication of the original. And I emphasise the close relationship between the fictions of France and England in this period, the familiarity French readers would have had with British fiction and vice versa. There are many recent publications that help me—and my students—situate the Romantic Novel in the context of cross-cultural exchanges in the period. I have already mentioned Cohen and Dever's The Literary Channel. To this can be added the collected essays of Remapping the Rise of the European Novel edited by Jenny Mander, and Cultural Transfers: France and Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century edited by Thomson, Burrows, and Dziembowski, as well as Mary Helen McMurran's monograph The Spread of Novels: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Eighteenth Century. Taken together, these three studies look beyond national boundaries in considering fiction and cultural capital, and this is exactly what I want my students to be able to do by the end of the module.

11.        I find Les Liaisons Dangereuses an extremely helpful text to emphasis the global nature of reading amongst the European elite in the eighteenth century. Valmont and Merteuil themselves are pan-European readers: Merteuil's unveiling of her self-education in letter 81 demonstrates the variety and depth of her reading of philosophy, conduct literature, and indeed novels. The ill-fated Tourvel is said to be reading Richardson's Clarissa at a crucial moment in her own seduction. The reference comes in letter 107, from Valmont's valet Azolan to his master, who clearly doesn't know the novel (in Douglas Parmée's 1995 translation: "I'm spelling it as it was printed, maybe your lordship will know all about it"), although the educated French reader of the late eighteenth century would have recognised the reference immediately. Laclos's own 1784 review of Frances Burney's Cecilia, published, like Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in 1782, is admiring of the British novel more generally. As Antoinette Marie-Sol points out,

Laclos does not distinguish between nations in his list of exceptional works. This leads to the third point of the review: Laclos's own preference for the English novel [. . .] only Richardson, Fielding, and Rousseau are listed as the "meilleurs romanciers" (163).
Laclos, of course, is not alone in looking across the channel for his fictional models. Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis's Adèle et Théodore, published in the same year, and translated into English in 1783 is just as admiring of Richardson (Genlis claims he produced the only "moral" works of fiction that could be recommended to young women), and the English author was also admired by Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire. [2]  For the view from the other side of the channel, students can usefully be referred to "An Essay on the Origin and Progress of Novel Writing," which appeared as Anna Laetitia Barbauld's introduction to her British Novelists (1810). In this introduction, Barbauld surveys continental fiction, and gives her own version of the key works in French literature, from Fénelon's Télémaque to Genlis's Adèle et Théodore, via Scarron, Lafayette, Lesage, Marmontel, Graffigny, Rousseau, Bernardin de St. Pierre, and Isabelle de Montolieu. Yet Barbauld does not mention Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses, despite the canonical status in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Such evidence helps students to question the Romantic canon more generally, something all our teaching must now consider.

Variant Translations; or, What Text is there in this Class?

12.        In a useful essay entitled "The Eighteenth-Century Novel and the Core Curriculum: Dangerous Liaisons," Robert J. Frail argues that "Like English translations of other French texts, Les Liaisons dangereuses fares badly" and that it is therefore necessary to select a translation with great care. It is, he feels,

essential for an instructor using an English translation to take some time (especially in a core course where many students may be reading their first and last French novel) to discuss flaws in the translation and strengths and nuances in the original that have been lost in translation (36).
Whilst I agree that the issue of translation must be tackled head-on, the discussion of the superiority of the original that Frail encourages here is an exercise in the subjective, not to mention the absurd, for the monolingual student. S/he of necessity has to take on trust that the instructor knows better than the translator, which, in addition, means that Romanticists without extremely fluent French would not be up to the task. It may well be this kind of anxiety that discourages Anglophone Romanticists from teaching literature in translation. I suggest another approach, which is making use of variant translations to emphasise the mediating role played by even the most unobtrusive of translators. I am assisted in this by the number of translations in my classroom, invited or not.

13.        Every year, I assign the Oxford World's Classics edition, translated by Douglas Parmée (1995). This is not because I feel this is a superior translation. I am, in fact, rather partial to the tone of P.W.K. Stone's 1961 translation, still in print with Penguin Classics. In any case, I believe that all translations have their flaws and merits. But the World's Classics edition is affordable and accessible, and includes an excellent and comprehensive introduction by David Coward, and useful explanatory notes (although I take a dim view of combining Laclos's original notes with the translator's notes at the end of the edition—seminar discussion with my students always includes some discussion of the paratextual presentation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, both now, and in the eighteenth century).

14.        Despite my careful selection of this set text, every year I have at least four translations in my classroom. These are: P.W.K. Stone (1961), Douglas Parmée (1995), Helen Constantine's 2007 translation for Penguin Classics, and, increasingly, Ernest Dowson's 1898 translation, which is the copy text for the Barnes and Noble Classics edition, not widely available in the UK, but importantly, the edition now available for download onto Kindle (beware the Kindle, those who want to read modern translations of classic French texts: the link from the Amazon page for Constantine's most recent translation takes one directly to Dowson). One year, I overheard a student say that "it doesn't really matter which one we have, does it. It's not as if it's a different novel." I use the variant translations in the class to stress that it only doesn't matter which translation we have if we believe that language doesn't matter. And I do so by comparing sections from the variant translations directly.

15.        Take, for example, the translation of Laclos's "Avertissement de l'Editeur," that sardonic and satirical "warning" to the public that puts the reader on guard from the outset. Stone's "Publisher's Note" has this line to conclude the first paragraph: "we have in fact, very good reason to believe that it is only a novel." Parmée's "Publisher's Foreword" is thus: "We even have strong reasons to suspect that this is a work of fiction." In a course that focuses on the dangers of novel-reading, only Stone's translation can be used to back up any point made about contemporary fear of novels specifically, and novel-writers' disparagement of the false "morality" of their critics. Laclos's original, of course, is "ce n'est qu'un Roman." I point this out in the classroom, but I try, where possible, not to rely on comparisons with the French.

16.        I then introduce another variant translation into the mix: the first English translation Dangerous Connections, published in 1784. We are fortunate, at Southampton, to have access to this via Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), but colleagues who do not could conceivably make use of the second edition of 1812, which is available from Google Books, and which includes Abbe Kentzinger's "Extract from the correspondence on what concerns the happiness of man and society. [no. III] The Utility of Novels. The Novel of Dangerous Connections." We now have a temporal spread of translations in the classroom, which allows us to examine the changes in language from the late eighteenth century to the twenty-first. Students can easily see that the older translations "feel" linguistically older, and they can observe differences in vocabulary.

17.        I use variant translations of letter 48 to encourage them to observe differences in poetic language. This is the central letter by Valmont, demonstrating his callousness and libertinage. Written in bed (on the back of a prostitute, Emilie) to the Presidente de Tourvel, the reader of Les Liaisons Dangereuses sees a copy of the letter that is included in a letter to Merteuil. This is a confusing enough episode, and the slipperiness of the language rewards a comparative approach across translations. There is an excellent close reading of four variant English translations of this letter by Catriona Seth, in French, entitled "Traduire le double langage amoureux. Réflexions sur la lettre XLVIII des Liaisons dangereuses" . Seth focuses on translations in English published in 1784, 1898, 1924 and 1962, and sees the successful translation of this letter as crucial to the success of an English translation overall. She notes, too, that the "eighteenth-century" style only remains apparent in the 1784 translation, which contains some now-obsolete phrases:

les auteurs des différentes versions ultérieures ne font aucun effort pour donner un texte qui ferait dix-huitième comme on fabrique encore des meubles de style Louis XVI (the authors of the later versions make no effort to provide a text that will feel like an eighteenth-century text just as we continue to make furniture in the style of Louis XVI) [my translation] (152).
My own students easily grasp that the older the translation, the more opaque the double entendre for them: they recognise, that is, why translations—like film adaptations—are frequently remade for new audiences and readers. Most of them also pick up that Douglas Parmée's translation includes a suggestive ellipsis in Letter 48 at the moment Valmont breaks off the correspondence, as he puts it in Letter 47, "to commit an act of gross infidelity": "I must leave you a moment to relieve the frenzy which is overtaking, nay, overpowering me [. . .]" This slight over translation is one of the many ways students can find in which the translator performs as an editor, clarifying points the original author may have chosen to leave unclear, and using punctuation to do so.

18.        Finally, these students do not have time to engage with lengthy discussions of translation theory, although I give them comprehensive references to follow up. I do, however, wish them all to understand that an "exact translation" may be impossible, that the notion that any linguistic form in language A has in language B an exact equivalent in terms of meaning, possible connotation, polysemic value, usage, phonic effect and so on, is fundamentally flawed. Frequently, of course, an equivalent is needed, hence the reliance on the translator. This translator becomes a mediator, a reader of the text for us. I give them the correct terminology to refer to translations: the source text is translated into the target language by a practitioner who is ideally bilingual, or at the least fluent in both. Of course they also need to know that different historical periods have had different views on the purpose and function of a translation, and that the Romantic period viewed much translation as hack-work.

19.        I therefore introduce them to the notion of the "Domesticating" model or target-oriented translation, which was most popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, by quoting Dryden's famous lines from his Dedication of the Aeneis (1697): "I have endeavoured to make Virgil speak such English as he would himself have spoken, if he had been born in England, and in this present age" (Weissbort and Eysteinsson 150) We have a short discussion about whether, for example, they think that French names should be changed to make them more palatable for the Anglophone readers, or whether the "Frenchness" of the characters is essential to the plot (here, those who have seen Sarah Michelle Gellar as a young, American, Kathryn Merteuil have much to say about the value of "translating" across time and across cultures). I give the class an extract from Lawrence Venuti's groundbreaking The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995) to introduce the "Foreignizing" model or source-oriented translation that offers an alternative to domesticating models in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. All of this discussion is of necessity truncated, but many students choose to follow up the exploration of translation theory in their essays: I point them towards Translation—Theory and Practice: A Historical Reader, edited by Daniel Weissbort and Astradur Eysteinsson, which is a wonderful resource for students of this level (and indeed for their tutors). To encourage their own research into the contemporary responses to translation, I direct them towards a variety of online resources, which they examine in preparation for our seminar discussions.

Locating the Early Reader and Translator: Online Tools and Resources

20.        There were three reviews of the first English translation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, entitled Dangerous Connections: the Monthly Review 71 (1784), p. 149, the Critical Review 57 (1784), pp. 473-474, and the English Review 3 (1784), p. 381. [3]  My students can access these reviews via the online resource British Periodicals, but those who are not fortunate enough to have campus access to this database could produce handouts—the reviews are not lengthy. Reading the reviews before our seminar discussion, I encourage students to think about the horizon of expectations of the late-eighteenth-century English reader, and how that may differ from our own.

21.        I have already told them—and they have read in Cheryl L. Nixon's valuable Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815—that the expectation from Romantic reviewers and critics was largely that a novel should provide moral instruction. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the reviews of Dangerous Connections were not favourable. The Monthly Review admits that "the story is conducted with great art and address, but it is almost too diabolical to be realised." The reviewer for the Monthly Review is shocked, too, that there is, in the preface, an attempt to suggest that the work may provide instruction, which the reviewer calls "an insult on the understanding of the public, as the work itself is a daring outrage on every law of virtue and decorum." All we learn of the exact plot is when the reviewer says darkly, "it is not enough to say we are disgusted at such complicated crimes; but we are actually chilled with horror." The Critical Review agrees that "the whole is delusive and dangerous in a great degree," claiming that "where one" reader may be "guarded from the villainy, ten will more completely learn the mysteries of seduction." The English Review recognises the danger too, although the reviewer in this case recognises that "in point of stile, conduct and artifice of tale, this novel is superior to all its contemporaries, but whether these qualities are a sufficient compensation for the mischief it may do by fertilising the genius of the seducer and animating his designs, we leave others to determine." The reviewer goes as far as to say that "we have been highly entertained by it," and says, too, that "to those who prize entertainment above instruction, this book will prove a very pleasing addition to their libraries." But the reviewer ultimately fears that it will promote vice in the reader, by portraying vice so seductively. It is this seduction—the fact that the main characters, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil are so diabolical, and yet simultaneously so witty, attractive, and appealing—that has proved controversial for readers from the late eighteenth-century until our own age: students gain an understanding of the impact of the text by reading these selective responses. There are comments on the quality of the translation too—and students are often amused to compare their own responses to the 1784 Dangerous Connections with the responses of these early readers.

22.        There are many online resources that students can use to gauge contemporary responses to translations. Two are openly accessible. British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception contains full reviews of works published in this period. A keyword search for "translation" brings up many reviews by weary critics, wishing that translators were more accurate, and less prolific. I point my students towards reviews of Germaine de Staël's Delphine (1802) in particular, where the wish that the novel had not been translated at all is vehemently expressed by the Critical reviewer. Students also enjoy browsing the Reading Experience Database (RED). Here, a keyword search for translation brings up a wealth of information about British readers responding to translations between 1450 and 1945: the first record is of Jane Austen, dismissing a translation of Genlis's Alphonsine for its "bad translation" and "indelicacies which disgrace a pen hitherto so pure" before turning to Lennox's "Female Quixotte" (115-16). Students enjoy exploring early reader responses in this way, and I find it an invaluable introduction to the research-led study they will go on to in their final year at the University of Southampton.

23.        In the following weeks, our students go on to read Northanger Abbey (1818)—the canonical Romantic English novel about novel reading—far better equipped to understand Catherine Morland's response to Gothic fiction, the novel's rejection of sentimental fiction, and the roots of Austen's realism more generally. By now, they have considered Lennox's Lady Arabella's reading of French romances, and they have read a scandalous French novel in translation (which includes another naïve heroine whose fate is much less happy than Lady Arabella or indeed Catherine Morland's own). Having thought about rising nationalisms and the cross-channel development of fiction in the eighteenth century more generally, Henry Tilney's words have an extra piquancy:

Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you—Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing; where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay every thing open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting? (203)
The student of the Romantic-period novel must always be reminded that literature, and particularly the early novel, is not a purely nationalist affair. I have no evidence, alas, that my students go on to read Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), Chateaubriand's Atala (1801) or René (1802), or indeed Staël's Corinne (1809) in translation, although I certainly point them towards the importance of these novels in the Britain of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and to Romantic-period thought more generally. If they take nothing else away, they at least recognise the plurality of Romanticisms, that French fiction is well worth reading in translation as long as one is aware of the mediating role of the translator, and that 'dangerous' readings are more or less dangerous according to the period—and the country—in which they are being read. These are no bad lessons to teach.

Select Student Bibliography


Bellos, David. Is that a Fish in your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything. London: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.

Cohen, Margaret and Carolyn Dever, eds. The Literary Channel: The International Invention of the Novel. Princeton, N.J: Princeton UP, 2002. Print.

Genette, Gérard. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Trans. Jane E Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.

Nixon, Cheryl L. Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2009. Print.

Weissbort, Daniel and Astradur Eysteinsson, eds. Translation—Theory and Practice: A Historical Reader. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

On Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Vanpee, Janie. "Reading Differences: The Case of Letter 141 in Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Eighteenth-Century Studies 27 (Autumn 1993): 85-110. Print.

Rogers, Katharine M. "Creative Variation: Clarissa and Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Comparative Literature 38 (Winter 1986): 36-52. Print.

Byrne, Patrick. "Second Thoughts on the Dénouement of Les Liaisons Dangereuses." The Modern Language Review 96 (Oct. 2001): 964-972. Print.

Online Resources

British Periodicals Online - for the 3 reviews of Dangerous Connections (1784)

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) - for access to the full text of Dangerous Connections (1784)

17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers - for general searches for references to early translations

The Reading Experience Database (RED), 1450–1945 - for general searches for references to early translations

British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation, and Reception - a wonderful resource for the reception of novels in the period 1800-1830.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Jane Austen's Letters. Ed. Deirdre LeFaye. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.

Bellos, David. Is that a Fish in your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything. London: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.

Cohen, Margaret and Carolyn Dever, eds. The Literary Channel: The International Invention of the Novel. Princeton, N.J: Princeton UP, 2002. Print.

Dow, Gillian. "Criss-Crossing the Channel: The French Novel and English Translation 1660-1832." The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel. Ed. J.A. Downie. Oxford: Oxford UP, forthcoming. Print.

Grieder, Josephine. Translations of French Sentimental Prose Fiction in Late Eighteenth Century England: The History of a Literary Vogue. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1975. Print.

Grogan, Claire, ed. Northanger Abbey. Peterborough: Broadview, 2002. Print.

Mander, Jenny, ed. Remapping the Rise of the European Novel. SVEC Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2007. Print.

Marie-Sol, Antoinette. Textual Promiscuities: Eighteenth-Century Critical Rewriting. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2002. Print.

McMurran, Mary Helen. The Spread of Novels: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Eighteenth Century. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009. Print.

Mortensen, Peter. British Romanticism and Continental Influences: Writing in an age of Europhobia. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004. Print.

Nixon, Cheryl L. Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2009. Print.

Seth, Catriona. "Traduire le double langage amoureux. Réflexions sur la lettre XLVIII des Liaisons dangereuses." La Traduction du discourse amoureux 1660-1830. Ed. Annie Cointre, Annie Rivara, and Florence Lautel-Ribstein. Metz: Centre d'Etudes de la Traduction, 2006. 146-159. Print.

Thomson, Ann, Simon Burrows and Edmond Dziembowski, eds. Cultural Transfers: France and Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century. SVEC Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010. Print.

Walker, Lesley H. "What Madame de Genlis Might Teach us Today." Novel Prospects: Teaching Romantic-Era Fiction. Ed. Patricia A Matthews and Miriam L. Wallace. College Park, MD: University of Maryland, 2008. Web.

Watt, Ian. The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding. Berkeley: U of California P, 1957. Print.


[1] For an examination of Europhobia more generally in the period, see Peter Mortensen's British Romanticism and Continental Influences. For more comments on the fear of French fiction specifically, see my own chapter, "Criss-Crossing the Channel: The French Novel and English Translation 1660-1832," forthcoming, and my online article “Translation, Cross-Channel Exchanges and the Novel in the Long Eighteenth Century” in Literature Compass, forthcoming. BACK

[2] For a discussion of how Genlis's Adèle et Théodore might be used in the classroom, see Lesley H. Walker, "What Madame de Genlis might teach us today." BACK

[3] English reviews of Les Liaisons Dangereuses: the Monthly Review 71 (1784), p. 149, the Critical Review 57 (1784), pp. 473-474, and the English Review 3 (1784), p. 381. BACK


Published @ RC

July 2014