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.


A new translation, by Gaston Baccara, was first published in 1945 by La Boétie from Brussels (432 pp.). He also translated Wuthering Heights. It makes it the first Belgian Villette since the 1855 La Maitresse d'Anglais. Baccara also translated from Dutch and German, which makes it even more likely that he was Belgian.

Cover of the 1945 Belgian Villette

La Boétie republished it in 1947, with a different cover.

Cover of the 1947 Belgian Villette

The third edition was published in 1949, the fourth in 1958 by Gérard et Cie from Verviers, Belgium (506 pp.).  The covers couldn't be found.

In its fifth and sixth to eight editions, from 1990 and 2004, Villette got in one book with Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, published by Robert Laffont. The 1990 edition has 905 pages, while there are three versions of the 2004 edition, with 905, 930 and 960 pages. In the editions of 905 Villette is on pages 431 to 898.

Cover of the 1990 French Villette

Cover of the 2004 French Villette
(Painting: Joseph Wright of Derby -
A moonlit lake by a castle (1787))
Baccara got his ninth in 2013, when it was published by Archipoche from Paris (713 pp.), with a preface by Isabelle Viéville Degeorges. It gets him to number four on the list of longest running translations, with 68 years, and number three for Villette. It will take at least until 2107 though before he could possibly overtake pole position. The number one from France has 158 years with her translation of The Professor. Its history will be described in the next articles.

Cover of the 2013 French Villette 
(Painting: opera singer Maria Malibran
 as Rossini's Desdemona by François Bouchot, 1834)

A fourth new translation (after the 1950 Swiss-French Villette) was published in 1975. It appears to have been published in Antwerp by Atlanta. The translation was done by Georges Hubeau, about whom nothing else is known. It was published in two volumes (217 and 193 pp.) in the Eve-Adam series, which also had a translation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It may have had a still missing illustrated book jacket.

Cover of the 1975 French Villette


Eric Ruijssenaars

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