Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Villette in Germany – Part two

After the two translations of Villette published in Berlin and Stuttgart in 1853, described earlier, it took until 1971 before a new translation, by Christiane Agricola, was published in Germany. So far it has reached 14 editions, the last one having been published in 2015. The two other translations in German were Swiss. Agricola (1927-2009), was from Leipzig, in (the former state of) East Germany. She also translated Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and Welsh and Scottish folk tales (even from Welsh apparently!).  

The first edition (686 pp.) was published by List from Leipzig. It had an afterword by Helmut Findeisen (from Dresden probably). One suspects that was a marxist interpretation of the novel. No doubt it is a good translation. It is nr. 8 on the list of longest running translations, with a fine 44 years between the first and (so far) last edition, making her the top scorer for the German language.

Cover of the 1971 Leipzig Villette

It was republished the next year by the same publisher, List, but this time in Munich, in West Germany. As it had only 657 pages, with no mention of an afterword, it must be that it was dropped.

Cover of the 1972 Munich Villette


The year 1973 saw two similar List editions. One from Leipzig (686 pp.) with the afterword, and one from Munich without it (657 pp.). Both covers can't be found.

The fifth edition was published in 1987, in a List license, by Ullstein from Frankfurt am Main and Berlin (671 pp.). It had a new afterword, by Sabrina Hausdörfer. It had the same cover as the sixth and seventh edition which was published by Ullstein too, and had the same amount of pages. It was part of a series of Women in Literature, or Die Frauen in der Literatur, as it says on the cover.

Cover of the 1987, 1989, 1991
Germany Ullstein Villettes

The next edition was published in 1992, after the collapse of East Germany, by Insel from Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig (licensed by Kiepenheuer Verlag from Leipzig, which had apparently taken over the publishing rights from List; 776 pp.). It had a new cover, which was also used for the 2001 edition, and probably also for the 1998 and 2005 Insel editions.

Cover of the 1992, 1998, 2001 and
2005 Germany Insel Villettes
(Painting: Franz Xavier Winterhalter -
Portrait of Countess Varvara
Musina-Pushkina (1895))

The twelfth edition was published in 2011, by Anaconda from Köln (784 pp.). Somehow it was now by license of Aufbau Verlag.

Cover of the 2011 German
Anaconda Villette

Anaconda published a set of five books with Brontë novels in 2012, one of which was Villette (784 pp.). The Professor and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are not in this series, which was republished in 2015. The Villette cover was the same as the 2011 one.

Picture of the whole set of the five novels


In 2014 Insel published the last but one edition so far (776 pp.), with a new cover. It's likely we'll see two or three new German Villettes in this decade, at least, at this rate.

Cover of the 2014 German
Insel Villette


Eric Ruijssenaars

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