Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Translations, a Statistical Analysis - Part Two, the Lists

All the Brontë novels

It’s an exciting race for the top scorer competition of the amount of languages. Wuthering Heights has taken the lead, with 48 languages. Jane Eyre has 47. But there must be more. As a comparison Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland can be given. It has 174 languages. Jane Eyre especially, who is almost as iconic as Alice, should be able to come considerably closer. It is interesting to note that Jane Eyre took a 11-1 lead in the 19th century, against Wuthering Heights.

Villette is a very good third, with 31 languages.  On fourth place come The Professor  and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, with 28. Shirley has 27. Agnes Grey is last, with 25. There will be more for them too.
One would think that the amount of translated editions of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Shirley and Agnes Grey come close to the amount of The Professor (150). I would guess that there are at least about 2500 translated editions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, each.

In tables 8a-e you can see all the languages that have been found. The first two tables have the year in which the first translations of Villette and The Professor in a certain language was published.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Villette in French – Part Three

The first translation of Villette in French after (the abridged) La Maitresse d'Anglais was published in 1932 by Gallimard from Paris. It got to a remarkable seven editions that year, and a very good total of 23 editions altogether in 47 years. The 1932 and later editions, up to the fifteenth in 1949, probably all had (almost) the same cover.

Cover of the first 1949 French
Gallimard Villette

The translation was done by Albine Loisy and Brian Telford. Loisy-Léger (1909-?) also translated George Eliot's Middlemarch, Adam Bede and Silas Marner, and wrote two novels herself. Very little could be found about Telford.

The next editions that can be traced are the fifteenth and sixteenth from 1949. We don't know when exactly the eight to fourteenth editions were published. Gallimard introduced a new cover for the sixteenth edition.

Cover of the second 1949 French
Gallimard Villette

Nor can the 17th to 21st editions be found. The 22nd and 23rd were published in 1979. These covers couldn't be found too. The last one is said to be a facsimile reprint of the first 1932 edition. All these Gallimard editions seem to have had 630 pages. It may well be of course that there were only two different Gallimard covers, although there will have been more small variations. It is very remarkable and disappointing that so many editions are missing. In no other country has a Villette gone missing, let alone a dozen.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Translations, a Statistical Analysis - Part one

Having found nearly all translations we can get a good picture of how Villette and The Professor in time spread around the world. About half of the translated Villette and The Professor editions were published in the last 30 years. Some of these years have been very productive, although there have been remarkably good years earlier too. These best years, and decades, will be revealed below. Among other aspects there is also a review of the total amount of languages for all of the Brontë novels.

Winning years
We’ll begin with giving the winning years. For both Villette and The Professor it was 2013, with 9 and 11 translated editions respectively. For Villette the years 1932 (thanks to one French translation) and 2011 come second with 7, while 1975 and 2008 come next with 6. In the The Professor competition 2016 is on second place with 10 translated editions, while 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2015 come joint third with 8. When the figures for both books are combined 2013 comes out as the clear winner, with 20. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are on third place with 13, followed by 2005 with 12. In tables 1, 2 and 3 more good years are shown for the novels in these competitions.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The years show a clear trend. It started quite slowly, but the amount of translated editions first really started to grow in the 1940s. It has been a quite regular growth since then, as this graph shows, as well as the accumulated total of translations of both novels. At present it is 211 for Villette and 160 for The Professor.

By 1920 The Professor had taken a 18-9 lead, but from then on till the end of the century Villette won every decade: 1920s, 4-0; 1930s, 13-2; 1940s, 16-11; 1950s, 15-7; 1960s, 15-3; 1970s, 29-10; 1980s, 16-3 and 1990s, 26-16 (Note: the year of publishing of 12 French Villettes is not known, 7 are from between 1933 and 1948, 5 between 1950 and 1978, these have been divided here over these 5 decades in this count. Three unknown editions of The Professor have been given to the 1940s, the 2000s and 2010s). In this century The Professor won the first decade, 44-34, and is in the lead in this present decade, 46-34. It is remarkable that this present decade is already the best scoring one, with more than 4 years to go.

In table 4 the full figures for the decades are given, and they're also shown in the second graph. Only the known years are included here.

The 1970s
In the 1970s the score of translated editions more than doubled in comparison to the previous decade. It was the great leap forward for Villette. It is an interesting phenomenon that the novel owes much here to Eastern European, then communist countries. Out of 27 editions, 19 were published there, divided over 7 countries. Serbia was a clear winner with 7 Villettes. Croatia came second with 4. Germany is third with 3, with two from East Germany.

The following decades
The communists continued to show more interest in the 1980s. They had a majority in languages and editions. But Germany was the winning country, West-Germany, with 4. Remarkably, three years had no translation of Villette or The Professor at all, 1981, 1982 and 1988. The only other year to do that since 1943 was 1954.

Although communism fell in eastern Europe in 1989 the countries continued to dominate the statistics, with Villette majorities in the amount of languages (9 out of 15) and editions (16 out of 26) in the 1990s. It was helped by a Chinese edition, still a communist country. Russian was the individual winner, with 5 editions. German is second with 4. Russia scores a resounding victory in the 2000s, with 15 Villettes! The Netherlands come second with 3. The decade has 11 languages, and 34 editions. The 2010s have already got 17 languages for Villette, and 34 editions as well. Russian has taken a lead. It’s on 6 (editions). Italian is on 5, German and Brazilian-Portuguese have 3.

Table 5 gives the winning decades for both novels together, tables 6 and 7 give the Villette and The Professor results.

Villette: Countries and translators
The Dutch language scores a resounding victory in the competition of the most different translations of Villette. It includes one translation that is probably Flemish. It has 7. Germany and France have 5, Italy has 4.

French is the winner in the race of languages with most editions, with 39, followed by Russian with 30. Germany has 20, Dutch has 12 and Hungarian is fifth with 11. Russia appears to have the best running single translation. It got to 27 editions!

Henriette Loreau is easily the winner in the longest running category. Her French translation of The Professor was first published in 1858, and last in 2016. That's a near-perfect score of 158 years! Tyyni Haapanen-Tallgren is on second place with a splendid 94 years with her Finnish Villette (1921-2015). Róża Centnerszwerowa comes third with 74 years, with her Polish Villette  (1939-2013). The first man is on fourth place. Gaston Baccara is on 68 years with his French Villette  (1945-2013). It will be very interesting of course to see what the score will look like in 20 years time.

Women easily win the translator competitions, as could be expected. They have most translations and editions. One translation was done by two men, the Arab Villette. Its cover drawing, joint nr. 1 in the cover top 6, was made by a woman, Safwa Farid, I recently learnt.

Eric Ruijssenaars
(with thanks to René van Oers for the tables and graphs, and for earlier efforts to make documents publishable on the blog.)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Yorkshire and Irish roots explored: talks by Blake Morrison and Monica Wallace on Saturday 22 October 2016

Ireland and Yorkshire were both featured in our day of talks on 22 October. The Yorkshire writer Blake Morrison, who is half Irish, spoke about growing up near Haworth and his play We Are Three Sisters. Monica Wallace, who recently returned to her native Dublin after five years working in Brussels, returned to Belgium to give us a talk on Charlotte Brontë’s Irish honeymoon.

Blake Morrison and the Brontës

Blake Morrison began his talk by drawing out parallels between his own childhood and the Brontës’. He told us about growing up near Skipton close to the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, in an old rectory at the top of the village, not far from Pendle Hill where the ‘Pendle Witches’ famous in local legend were hanged in 1612. His mother was Irish and his father, as a doctor (in fact both parents were doctors) was an important man in the village just as Patrick Brontë the parson was in Haworth. He told us about reading Jane Eyre in secret as a teenager – in secret because it was not considered boys’ reading in the laddish Yorkshire culture of the time; it was not on the curriculum at the boys’ grammar school he attended – and about the affinity he felt with the young Jane and the novel’s power as a book for young adults. Blake told us how he found out that his mother was hiding her copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in her bedside table around the same time that he was hiding his of Jane Eyre (a novel that when it first came out was also regarded as a ‘naughty’ book!).

Blake Morrison

Blake went on to tell us how he came to write his play about the Brontës, We are three sisters. First he recounted how an earlier Brontë-inspired stage production, a musical version of Wuthering Heights he wrote in 1986, was never performed; four other musical versions of the novel were doing the rounds at the time and in the end Heathcliff with lyrics by Tim Rice, starring Cliff Richard, was the only one to be staged. To give us a taste of his own version of Wuthering Heights, Blake read us the ballad Isabella’s Song, which starts:

As I stepped out one summer night

to feed my white ring-dove

a shadow fell across the gate

and swore undying love.

The shadow stretched out tall and slim,

its face was black as night.

It spoke to me of wedding-rings

and bridesmaids bathed in light ….

The full poem can be read in his book of verse A discoverie of Witches (2012) prompted by the Pennine landscape in which he grew up. In a very different mood, the collection also includes the Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper, an exploration - in dialect - of the deeds and motives of Peter Sutcliffe, convicted of killing 13 women in 1981. Morrison has never shrunk from tackling such subjects, and has written a book on the James Bulger murder case.

Blake Morrison chatting to a
Brussels Brontë Group member

Turning to the genesis of his play We Are Three Sisters, in which he took up the challenge of re-writing Chekhov’s play with Charlotte, Emily and Anne as the sisters, Blake told us that when a theatre critic friend first suggested the idea to him, he dismissed it as ‘bonkers’. He was however persuaded to go ahead with the project by the artistic director of the theatre company Northern Broadsides, which staged the play in 2011.

In Blake’s play, Moscow, to which Chekhov’s three sisters long to go, has become London, and, similarly, various characters in the Chekhov play are replaced by equivalent characters from the Brontës’ circle (their doctor, Patrick’s curate). Blake explained that although he used the Brontës own words in his text where possible, the use of Chekhov’s play as a basis meant he had to take some liberties with the Brontës’ life story, with sometimes amusing results. For example, in his play the woman with whom Branwell is believed to have had an affair, his employer’s wife Lydia Robinson, turns up at the Parsonage, which she never visited in real life. Members of our group read out extracts from two scenes in the play: Charlotte and Anne telling Emily about their trip to reveal their identity to the publisher George Smith in London, and Charlotte telling her father about the publication of Jane Eyre.

Contrary to the common perception of the Brontës’ lives as eventless, Blake found them full of interest and drama and wanted to show Haworth as less bleak than it is generally portrayed. His play has many touches of humour and he describes it as a ‘tragi-comedy’, much like the original Chekhov.

In the course of the talk, in addition to some of his poems, Blake read us extracts from his memoir And when did you last see your father? Made into a film in 2007 starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth, it contains many memories of his childhood. By the end of his time with us we had gained many insights into his personal background and the wide range of his literary output as well as becoming acquainted with his Brontë play.

Charlotte Brontë in Ireland

It was good to welcome back Monica Wallace, who has spoken to our group before and was an active member of it when working in Brussels as transport attaché for Ireland in 2009-14. She is now back in Dublin, working for the Irish transport department. For this presentation she researched the family of Charlotte Brontë’s husband, the Anglican clergyman Arthur Bell Nicholls, and the route taken by the couple on their honeymoon in the summer of 1854 at the start of their brief marriage (Charlotte died 9 months later in March 1855).

The Brussels Brontë Group
Monica Wallace

Monica began by filling us in on Nicholls’ family – born in County Antrim as one of a large family that was struggling financially, he was adopted at a young age by a more affluent uncle, his mother’s brother Alan Bell, who ran a school in Banagher. Arthur never saw his own parents again; his mother died 5 years later. Like Charlotte, he had a stint as a badly-paid teacher when he helped out at his uncle’s school. His biographer Alan Adamson (whose widow Monica met on a trip to Canada) speculates that despite Arthur’s happiness in his new family, he probably suffered from insecurity as a result of these upheavals and financial problems in his early days.

Monica also filled us in on some of the developments in Irish history in Nicholls’ and Patrick Brontë’s lifetimes, for example Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic Emancipation, which was followed with interest by the Brontës; the Anglican Patrick Brontë initially opposed it but changed his position. She sketched conditions in Ireland at the time of Charlotte’s visit and the often condescending attitudes of English visitors to the country, such as Thackeray.

The Brussels Brontë Group
Monica Wallace fills us in on Arthur Nicholls' family

She then took us on a richly-illustrated tour of the honeymoon route, starting in Dún Laoghaire (where Monica herself lives) and thence to Cuba House, the family home in Banagher, via Dublin. From there, Charlotte and Arthur went on to visit Kilkee, Tarbert in Co. Limerick and Tralee, the Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe (where Charlotte escaped unharmed when thrown from her horse) in Co. Kerry. We saw some of the hotels where they stayed and learned that at that period hotels were strictly segregated into Protestant and Catholic.

We gleaned fascinating snippets about Arthur’s family, such as that one of his brothers had a daughter named Charlotte Brontë Nicholls, and Banagher: Anthony Trollope lived there in the 1840s in the first years of his marriage and is sure to have met the Bells.

Arthur Bell Nicholls

Charlotte may have had some misapprehensions about the Bell family. For example, she appears to have believed that Cuba House was owned by the family (in fact it came courtesy of the school of which Alan Bell was headmaster) and that Nicholls’ aunt Bell was educated in England (actually she spent just one week at an English boarding school before being brought back to Ireland as her family missed her). What is certain is that where the Bell family was concerned Charlotte was forced to abandon her prejudices against Ireland, and had nothing but praise for her in-laws’ ‘gentility’ and kindness. She also gave positive reports of her new husband as she began to really get to know him for the first time, in his native country and his family circle.

Helen MacEwan

Monday, 24 October 2016

The Professor in Germany

The first German translation of The Professor was published in 1858 in Stuttgart, translated "Aus dem Englischen von Dr. Büchele", as it says on the title page.

Title page of the 1858 German The Professor

This edition was republished in facsimile form in 2015 by Reink Books, as a print on demand book. A 2016 copy has also been spotted (but we have not included it in the statistical analysis article for that year).

The second and only other translation was published for the first time in 1990, by Ars Vivendi from Cadolzburg (302 pp.). It was done by Gottfried Röckelein, who also translated Jane Eyre.

Cover of the 1990 German The Professor