Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Germans!

I'm doing a bit of research about c19th illustrated editions of Jane Austen's novels and in the process picking up all manner of trivia telling little details about the gradual spread of Jane across the continents. The first American editions, for instance, were bowdlerised, if you can believe that - in Mansfield Park Fanny's coarse father keeps saying "by G--" (with the dashes in Austen's version) which the American publisher altered to "by my word". They also changed all the instances of "Good God", and "Good Heavens" - BLASPHEMY, don't ya know....the funny bit is that all these editions were pirated so not much moral high ground is retrievable. It would have been a purely commercial decision anyway, though.

I was particularly taken by the fact that the only extant copy of the first Austen novel to be translated into German, Pride and Prejudice (which came out as the unmellifluous but literal Stolz und vorurteil), is in a library of Harvard, with all the pages still uncut. How frustrating for anyone who yearns to know what freakishnesses were perpetrated during that particular translation! It will forever remain a mystery. But I wonder who it was that owned that book first and why she never got curious enough to have a peek inside.

8 comments:

Rob Manderson said...

Sad to think of that effectively useless volume sitting in the library, pages uncut, forever. Why even keep it if it's not to be read at the least by scholars?

Phantom Scribbler said...

You want I should sneak in and cut it for you?

Zoe said...

BAZLOTTO!

I can't tell you how pleased I am!


(and phantom should sneak in)

Armaniac said...

Ah, 19th century, who would even try to envisage what the world might come to by then??

Carrier Falcons have been dispatched in the ongoing memelike quest...

Yours, Armagnac Esq.

BridgeGirl said...

My German teacher at Melbourne Uni Professor Grave and his wife actually translated all the Austen novels into German!

He was a very interesting teacher - I did a really cool subject that was called Redensarten - turns of phrases, colloquialisms and word meanings. For example what is the German equivalent of "don't change your horses mid-stream" and it is usually not a literal translation.

Miss BridgeGirl.

Lucy Tartan said...

Yes please Phantom....!

Kate said...

The 19th century did produce a terrible number of hypocrites - the end of Tess of the D'Urbervilles had to be changed, as the thought of a woman being carried by a man who she wasn't married to, was just scandalous. I had naively thought at the time that he wasn't physically strong enough to carry her ...

Anonymous said...

Wunderbar! It's no surprise that the Germans admired Jane Austen: they presumably saw in her writings and Miss Austen's own personality the prototype for a powerful feminist figure such as Eva Braun.

Ta ta.