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"The knots within": translations, tapestries, and the art of reading backwards.

Leonard Digges is perhaps best known for the commendatory poem he composed for the 1623 First Folio that proclaims that Shakespeare's works will outlive the time-bound "Stratford Moniment" and make Shakespeare "looke / Fresh to all Ages." (1) In a longer and lesser-known poem about Shakespeare's dramatic works that was likely intended for the Second Folio but appeared posthumously in print as a commendatory poem to John Benson's 1640 edition of Shakespeare's poems, Digges praises these same works of Shakespeare as those of a true original:

   Reader his Workes (for to contrive a Play:
   To him twas none) the patterne of all wit,
   Art without Art unparaleled as yet.
   Next Nature onely helpt him, for looke thorow
   This whole Booke, thou shalt find he doth not borrow,
   One phrase from Greekes, nor Latines imitate,
   Nor once from vulgar Languages Translate,
   Nor Plagiari-like from others gleane,
   Nor begges he from each witty friend a Scene
   To peece his Acts with, all that he doth write,
   Is pure his owne, plot, language exquisite. (2)

Digges employs various negative formulations of translation, including borrowing, imitating, plagiarizing, and begging, in order to exalt the work of Shakespeare as "pure," uncontrived, and distinct from that of his contemporaries, namely Ben Jonson, whom Digges goes on to mock in the lines that follow. As Sidney Lee wrote in his 1888 entry for Digges in the Dictionary of National Biography, "few contemporaries wrote more sympathetically of Shakespeare's greatness." (3)

We know, of course, that Digges's claims about Shakespeare's originality are decidedly untrue, as Shakespeare regularly imitated and borrowed from classical and contemporary European sources, many of which he would have encountered in translation. But if this outrageous example of early Bardolatry sets Shakespeare apart from any individual contemporary, it is Digges himself, who wrote primarily as a translator and had an intimate understanding of the dynamics between originals and translations as well as those between authors and translators. Although Digges lamented that a translation falls "farre short of the Originall" in the preface to his 1617 translation of Claudian's Rape of Proserpine "out of Latine into English verse," he would go on to defend the value of translators and their labors five years later in the dedicatory epistle of his 1622 translation of Gonzalo de Cespedes y Meneses's Spanish romance Poema tragico del espanol Gerardo, y desengano del amor lascivo by revising a popular metaphor. He writes:

Translations (as sayes a witty Spaniard) are, in respect of their Originals, like the knottie wrong-side of Arras-Hangings: But by his wits leaue, as the faire out-side could ill be seene, without helpe of the knots within; no more can the fame of a wel-deseruing Author be far spred, without the labor of a Translator. This made me, for the present Spanish Author his sake, venter to make him speak English, and to do a publike good, by publishing the morall Examples contained in the present Tragicall Discourses. (4)

Translating a Spanish text at the height of English interest in Spain in the moments leading up to the failed Spanish Match of 1623, (5) Digges appropriately draws on a metaphor popularized by "witty Spaniard" Miguel de Cervantes in the second part of his Don Quixote, when his eponymous knight errant famously declares in the presence of a translator in a print shop that "translating from one language into another (except it be out of the Queenes of Tongues, Greeke and Latine) is iust like looking vpon the wrong side of Arras-Hangings." (6) But rather than simply repeating or dismissing the metaphor outright, Digges returns to the material referent itself to offer an important revision in defense of translations and the "labor of a translator," a gesture that seems to work actively against the deferential or anxious stances that many early modern translators had taken toward the original author in decades prior. (7)

Despite this example of an early revisionist reception of the tapestry metaphor as it was made popular by Cervantes, many modern scholars and practitioners of translation have found it to be a powerful and eminently repeatable image for the difficulties and deficiencies of translation, perhaps most ironically in their analyses of English translations of Spanish texts. The reverse side of the tapestry has become so prevalent in the titles, epigraphs, introductions, and collections of texts on translation that we might even be inclined to agree with Dale B. J. Randall's claim that "Cervantes endowed his mad knight with some perfectly sane doubts about the limits of translation." (8) In this essay, I want to read against such ready acceptance and return to this earlier moment in the history of Anglo-Spanish translation in order to follow Digges's lead in pulling at the threads of Cervantes's language and the material history of Renaissance tapestries. Building on recent scholarship on the importance of tapestries as both material objects and metaphors for textual creation, I aim to show how Renaissance tapestry production and use can complicate our traditional understandings of the hierarchy between originals and translations, which have been, in part, perpetuated by the casual use of metaphors without fully considering their material referents in the historical contexts from which they emerged. By pointing to the real and metaphorical "knots within," Digges asks us not just to value the labor of the translator who does a "publike good" in spreading the content and fame of the original text and author but also to engage in a practice of reading backwards that directs our attention to the materiality of the reverse side of the tapestry that has been so maligned. I will show that when we attend to the "knots within," we learn that Renaissance tapestries were actually woven from behind, thus making the "knottie wrong-side" the site of their creation rather than a symbol of secondary imperfection.

Read from this backward perspective, the tapestry metaphor made famous in Cervantes's print shop scene begins to unravel, indeed to re-weave itself, into something far more complex than the centuries of unquestioned quotation and repetition would seem to suggest. Rather than simply reaffirming tired ideas about the ways in which translations fall "farre short of the Originall," the tapestry invites us to think instead about how translation and authorship are deeply interwoven practices and not mutually exclusive opposites. (9) A rereading of this nature does more than to shift our perspectives on translation, however. It asserts the value of reading backwards in another way: toward a history of translation theory and practice. (10) When we repeat metaphors from the past without properly considering the complexity of the historical contexts in which they circulated, we run the risk of overlooking the ways in which they both shaped and reflected the practices of reading and writing that translation continues to enable.


Cervantes's figurative use of the tapestry is just one example of a broader historical trend in which writers have called upon a material object or process to meditate on the nature of translating, the status of the translator, and the fundamental tension between the original text and the translation. In several recent critical surveys of this phenomenon, scholars such as Theo Hermans, Massamiliano Morini, and Anne Coldiron have shown just how widely figurative language, or what Hermans calls the "metalanguage of translation," proliferated in the prefaces, dedicatory epistles, commendatory poems, and literary texts of the Renaissance, a period that was shaped in large part by an explosion in the sheer number and variety of translations. (11) The abstract nature of translation itself seems to continuously demand these explanatory comparisons, and literary scholars working across national traditions and historical periods have shown that we should take them seriously as some of the richest theoretical reflections on the process of rendering an expression from one language into another. (12) But for all of the emphasis on the idea that metaphors matter in the study of translation, few critics have carefully engaged with the matter of the metaphors themselves.

What is immediately apparent about the tapestry metaphor in particular is how familiar its material referent would have been to early modern readers in ways that are not readily available to us. As Rebecca Olson has pointed out in her recent work on tapestries and the literary culture of early modern England, this woven art form is not nearly as ubiquitous in our age of machine-made textiles as it was throughout Renaissance Europe, when tapestries lined the walls of royal courts and noble households and were on display during public processions and other civic events. (13) Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton point out, moreover, that we have lost a sense of how culturally and politically important these elaborate textiles were in the period, a loss that was exacerbated by neglect among art historians, who tended to view the art of tapestry weaving as merely decorative or secondary to painting and sculpture. (14) Much like the translations they have been called upon to describe, tapestries are just beginning to move back into the light of scholarly attention after years in the shadows.

The kinship between these textile and textual traditions goes far beyond a shared scholarly treatment, however. Emily Francomano has argued that because Renaissance tapestries often featured woven adaptations and representations of well-known narratives, they were read as much as they were viewed and thus became a familiar way of engaging with textual traditions both within and across languages. (15) Pointing to several instances in which these elaborately woven objects were also described and invoked within the poetry, prose, and drama of the period, Olson has shown that tapestries and weaving more broadly served as an aesthetic model as well as a source for conceptual vocabulary for thinking about the literary writers own work as a weaver of narrative threads. (16) At a time when the dynamic relationships between text and textile and word and image were shaping practices of both reading and writing, it is unsurprising that the tapestry came to serve as a powerfully material metaphor for thinking about translation, which is as much a practice of reading as it is one of writing.

Cervantes was certainly not the first writer to recognize the power of such a comparison. Indeed, the relationship between tapestries and human linguistic production has classical roots, most notably recorded in Plutarch's account of Themistocles's interaction with the king of Persia. Hoping to buy himself time to learn the Persian language so that he need not rely on the king's interpreters, Themistocles explains the importance of direct speech by comparing it to a tapestry that has been spread out to reveal all of its images. "Contrariwise," he explains, "they appeare not, but are lost, when they are shut vp, & close folded." (17) As sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European translators called on the two sides of the tapestry to describe their own linguistic endeavors, the comparison became more closely tied to commentary on the relationship between the original and translated versions of textual forms of expression. (18) Spanish translator Luis Zapata, for example, explains in the preface to his 1592 translation of Horace's Ars Poetica, a text that famously advocates for sense-for-sense over word-for-word translation, that "son los libros traducidos tapiceria del reves, que esta alli la trama, la materia, y las formas, colores y figuras, como madera y piedras por labrar, faltas de lustre y de pulimento" [translated books are tapestries inside out, [in that] there is the plot/weft, the matter, the forms, colors and figures, like wood and stones for carving, devoid of luster and polish]. (19) In the preface to his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy (1665), Esteban Manuel de Villegas claims that the metaphor also appeared in the writings of the sixteenth-century poet Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, "que decia que las traducciones eran de la condicion de los tapices vueltos al reves, que descubrian las figuras, pero llenas de borlas y de hilachas" (who said that translations were of the condition of tapestries turned to the reverse side [in that] they reveal the figures, but [are] full of tassels and lint). (20)

As these examples suggest, the two-sided tapestry metaphor circulated in discourses about translation well before the second part of Don Quixote was published in 1615, but Cervantes does not simply repeat the comparison that his predecessors employed. Rather, he moves the metaphor out of the traditional space of the translation's paratext and situates it instead in a highly metafictive and metatextual scene that takes place in a print shop during the moments just before his eponymous character discovers that a false version of his own history is in production in that very shop. In the next section, I will demonstrate how a careful rereading of this scene and the role that the two-sided tapestry metaphor plays within it can reveal that the relationship between an original and a translation is anything but one of binary opposition.


The print shop episode is one among many moments in Don Quixote that explore the problems of translation that preoccupied early modern writers and readers. Critics have long discussed the ways in which Cervantes's text actively blurs the lines between authorship and translation, most obviously in the overarching conceit that frames the novel not as an original composition but rather as a text based on a translation of an imaginary manuscript written by an Arabic historian named Cide Hamete Benengeli. (21) In most accounts of what we might call a Cervantine theory of translation, scholars have focused primarily on the narrator's interactions with this fictional source text and the carefully orchestrated engagement with the figure of the morisco translator, who is both a figure of suspicion and suspicious of the text he translates. (22) Critics have come to agree that as much as Don Quixote is a novel about novels, it is also a novel about translation and the critical role it plays in the writing of novels. Situated in such a context, the tapestry metaphor certainly seems to provide a visual illustration of the ideas about fidelity and translatability that Cervantes develops throughout the text's many episodes. (23) But I would like to propose another way of looking at the tapestry: as a material metaphor for Cervantes's larger interest in how the complexities of translation can expose the "knotty wrong-side" of all textual creation.

Translation emerges rather quickly as the topic of conversation in the print shop as Don Quixote is almost immediately introduced to a gentleman whose Castilian translation of a Tuscan novel entitled Le Bagatele is in the process of being typeset and printed. As Quixote engages in conversation with this gentleman about corresponding words in the Tuscan and Castilian tongues, the narrator does not refer to him as el traductor, as we might expect, but as el autor. (24) In some ways, this linguistic overlap confirms Daniel O. Mosqueras observation that Cervantes's characters "who in one way or another perform even the most minimal of translations are, in fact, treated as the 'authors' of books." (25) But the print shop scene does seem unique in its ability to simultaneously call attention to the novel's conflation of these two forms of writing as it playfully insists on the distinction between then. Curiously, the only time we see the word "traductor" in the scene itself is when Quixote praises the "traductores famosos" Cristobal de Figueroa and Don Juan de Jaurigui, who "felizmente ponen en duda cual es la traduccion o cual el original" (haply leaue it doubtfull, which is the Translation or Originall"). (26) In other words, the scene in which Cervantes embeds the tapestry metaphor repeatedly and insistently points up the ways in which translators, authors, and their respective forms of writing are not as diametrically opposed as early modern and contemporary discourses surrounding translation might have us believe.

At the moment he invokes the tapestry metaphor, Quixote is actually quite frustrated with the way that the labor of the translator standing before him is valued:

Osare yo jurar--dijo don Quijote--que no es vuesa merced conocido en el mundo, enemigo siempre de premiar los floridos ingenios ni los loables trabajos. [??]Que de habilidades hay perdidas por ahi! [??]Que de ingenios arrinconados! [??]Que de virtudes menospreciadas! Pero, con todo esto, me parece que el traducir de una lengua en otra, como no sea de las reinas de las lenguas, griega y latina, es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el reves, que aunque se ven las figuras, son llenas de hilos que las escurecen y no se ven con la lisura y tez de la haz y el traducir de lenguas faciles ni arguye ingenio ni elocucion, como no le arguye el que traslada ni el que copia un papel de otro papel. Y no por esto quiero inferir que no sea loable este ejercicio del traducir, porque en otras cosas peores se podria ocupar el hombre y que menos provecho le trujesen. (27)

The first English translator rendered it thus in 1620:

I dare sweare (quoth Don Quixote) you are not knowne to the world, which is always backward in rewarding flourishing wits, and laudable industry: Oh what a company of rare abilities are lost in the world! What wits cubbed vp, what vertues contemned: but all for that, mee thinkes this translating from one language into another (except it be out of the Queenes of Tongues, Greeke and Latine) is iust like looking vpon the wrong side of Arras-Hangings: that although the Pictures be seene, yet they are full of threed ends, that darken them, and they are not seene with the plainnesse & smoothnesse, as on the other side; and the translating out of easie languages argues neither wit, nor elocution, no more then doth the copying from out of one paper into another: yet I inferre not from this that translating is not a laudable exercise: for a man may be far worse employed, and in things lesse profitable. (28)

It is worth pausing to spend some time here with the 1620 English translation, which amplifies the ethical implications of Quixote's thoughts on the act of translating itself. Whereas Cervantes's Spanish suggests that the world is averse to rewarding the talent, wit, and commendable work the translator so clearly displays in his brief word-for-word Spanish-Italian exchange with Don Quixote, the English translation argues that the world is "backward" in failing to lavish such praise. And while Cervantes's text describes looking at "los tapices flamencos por reves," or Flemish tapestries on the reverse side, the English translation calls it the "wrong side," not of Flemish tapestries but of "Arras-Hangings," the popular common noun in England for tapestries derived from the famous Franco-Flemish site of textile production. In the process of capturing the spirit of Cervantes's text for English readers, this translator (and many subsequent English translators) further highlights the notion that there is something inherently incorrect or "wrong" about translations and the reverse side of the tapestry while simultaneously enacting the "backward" value system that places translators and their products in the category of secondary artisan rather than that of artist.

Given that Don Quixote clearly means to describe the shortcomings of translations, however, it is fair to assume, as many of Cervantes's readers have, that he intends to draw a comparison between the finished translation and the reverse side of the tapestry, or perhaps more accurately, between the act of reading a translation and looking at the tapestry's so-called "wrong side." He does not, however, compare the noun form of "libros traducidos" (translated books) or "traducciones" (translations) to the noun form of "tapices" or "tapiceria" (tapestries). Rather, he makes a comparison between the infinitive form of a verb that functions as a noun, "el traducir" or translating, and the idea of someone looking ("es como quien mira") at the reverse side of a tapestry. This might seem like a small grammatical distinction to make given the fact that the remainder of Quixote's statement communicates the idea that translation is a lesser art form, but the metaphor begins to look rather different when we recognize that the two sides of the comparison are the act of translating (which is itself distinct from reading a translation) and the act of looking at the tapestry's other side. As we have learned from tapestry historians like Candace Adelson and Thomas Campbell, this "other" side was actually the site of the Renaissance tapestry's creation. (29) Weavers using either the high-warp loom, or haute-lisse, or the more popular low-warp loom, or basse-lisse, worked on the tapestry from the side that we know as the "reverse" in order to create the smooth image on the front. Translating, then, is indeed like looking at what Digges called "knotty wrong-side" of the tapestry, for to look at these "knots within" is to understand how the "faire front side" of the tapestry, or the original text, was made in the first place. It is only then, as Digges would argue, that it is possible to recreate that text for new readers.

Uttered in the space of a print shop, where compositors, typesetters, and pressmen are presumably working in the background to produce the two-thousand-copy print run that the translator has commissioned and funded himself, Quixote's argument that producing a translation is no different from copying the text from one piece of paper to another seems to draw yet another analogy between printing and weaving. (30) In the same way that printed copies are derived from a manuscript, tapestry weavers translated a painted image known as "cartoon" into their textile medium. Multiple tapestries could be woven from the same cartoon, and in some cases, the cartoons were transferred from one tapestry producer to another. At first glance, this aspect of the tapestry-making process might appear to confirm the notion that tapestries are merely secondary copies of existing paintings, but recent archival research has revealed that cartoons were often commissioned for the express purpose of being used by weavers and that oftentimes the tapestries survive when the cartoons do not. (31) Just like the fictional conceit of Cervantes's novel, tapestries challenge us to reconsider our definitions of what constitutes an "original" and how we value the labor--the knots within--that makes possible the production of texts and textiles alike.

As Quixote turns his attention away from the translator and toward the other books being produced in the Barcelona print shop, we begin to see the implications of a revised understanding of authorship and translation. It is no small coincidence that the final text Quixote encounters is The Second Part of the Ingenious Knight Don Quixote de La Mancha, written not by Cervantes himself but "by such a one, an Inhabitant of Tordesillas." This is not the first time the reader or Don Quixote has heard about a spurious sequel to his story. While Cervantes was writing the second part of Don Quixote, a so-called "false Quixote" by a writer using the pseudonym Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda was published under the title Segundo Tomo del Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha in 1614. Scholars have detailed the ways in which Cervantes discredits Avellanedas text in the prologue to his own second part and self-consciously weaves references to this unauthorized continuation into the narrative, but it is especially worth noting that our encounter with its material mass production comes on the heels of a conversation about translation, authorship, and fame. (32) By figuring himself as the fictitious "second author" simply retelling the history of Don Quixote as it was mediated through a translated version of an original manuscript penned by an Arabic historian in part I, Cervantes unwittingly confirmed Digges's argument about the "labor of the translator." As the padrastro, or stepfather, of this story, he was apparently so successful in spreading the fame of the "wel-deseruing Author" that he inspired, however frustratingly, the continued life of his character and an act of authorial creation that quite literally threatened to compete with his own. (33)


The method of reading backward that I have outlined in this essay is, in many ways, a deconstructionist gesture that looks at the reverse side of the tapestry metaphor and the linguistic phenomenon it describes in order to challenge received assumptions about the creation and circulation of texts. (34) As Terry Eagleton has written, "to deconstruct is to reverse the imposing tapestry of thought in order to expose in all its unglamorously disheveled tangle the threads constituting the well heeled image it presents to the world." (35) In exposing the literal and figurative threads of the comparison between tapestries and translations, I have argued that to translate is to deconstruct the well-heeled image of the front side by reading backward and looking at its reverse side. The task of the translator is first to understand how the original text made meaning and then to reconstruct that meaning--that well-heeled image--for new readers in new contexts. In deconstructing the metaphor in this way, I have not sought to dismiss or destroy it but to show how it is, in fact, a productive material figure for thinking about translation as a process that requires and often provides access to the inner workings of language itself.

The implications of this revised understanding might be best illustrated by returning to the example with which I opened, Diggess outlandish praise of Shakespeare's works. Already at this early date, Shakespeare was heralded as the English author par excellence, whose only source was nature itself. It would seem that for Digges and his commendation of Shakespeare, authorship and translation are so profoundly opposed that he must wipe any traces of borrowing or unoriginality from his legacy in order to produce a "well-heeled image" of an original English author who has no parallel. Cervantes clearly shared such anxieties about his value as an original Spanish writer, which he expressed most succinctly in the "Prologo al lector" to his Novelas ejemplares, published in 1613 between the two parts of Don Quixote. He writes, "yo soy el primero que he novelado en lengua castellana, que las muchas novelas que en ella andan impresas, todas son traducidas de lenguas estranjeras, y estas son mias propias, no imitadas ni hurtadas; mi ingenio las engendro, y las pario mi pluma, y van creciendo en los brazos de la estampa." (36) But the tapestry metaphor he would go on to make famous in the second part of Don Quixote reveals, with the help of Diggess insightful revision, that the dynamics between author and translator were not about opposing sides of the same object but about how these modes of writing always function in relation to one another.

The two sides of the tapestry, along with other "classic" metaphors of translation that became culturally entrenched during the Renaissance, may appear to set up binaries between good and bad, original and translation, author and translator, but what the materiality of the tapestry shows us is that a translation is not an imprecise copy of an original but a window into how texts are made. The tapestry metaphor should be included in our current discourses on translation, not because it confirms received notions about the superiority of originals over their translations but because it can illustrate that the relationship between translations and originals is messy, knotty, and not at all binary. When we read backwards toward a history of translation, we find a past that can offer new and more complex ways to think about the theory and practice of an activity that was, more than it perhaps is in our present moment, central to ideas about authorship and textual creation.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi


(1) "To the Memorie of the deceased Authour Maister W. Shakespeare," in Mr. Wiliam Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies Published according to the true originall copies (London, 1623), A6r.

(2) "Vpon Master William Shakespeare, the Deceased Authour, and his Poems," in Poems: Written by Wil. Shakespeare. Gent. (London, 1640), *3r.

(3) Dictionary of National Biography, s. v. "Leonard Digges," by Sidney Lee (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1888), 15:71.

(4) Leonard Digges, trans., Gerardo the Unfortunate Spaniard. Or A patterne for lasciuious louers (London, 1622), A2r-A2v. Digges continues his defense of the translator in his prologue to the reader, noting that "if the Worke fall short of expectation," the reader should give credit for such shortcomings to the original author, for "a Translator hath no commission to better (suffice to come neere) his Originall" (A3r). Digges goes on to note, however, that he omitted, altered, and censored certain things: "Some of the Verses in the Spanish Copie, I haue purposely left out, as being (in my iudgement) vnworthy to bee ranked with the Prose; others I haue altered, to make them more sutable to an English Reader. One by-discourse I haue left wholly out, as superstitiously smelling of Papisticall Miracles; in which I haue no beleefe" (A3r-A3v).

(5) Several recent studies have detailed the frequently overlooked influence of Spain on English literature and culture of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. Most notably, Barbara Fuchs argues in her book Poetics of Piracy: Emulating Spain in English Literature (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) that an English national canon emerged "in the context of its rivalry with Spain" and that English debts to Spain were incurred through practices of emulation, translation, and appropriation (11). The specific influence of Cervantes in British literature and culture has been outlined in great detail in the following collections: J. A. G. Ardila, ed. The Cervantean Heritage: Reception and Influence of Cervantes in Britain (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2009), and Dale B. J. Randall and Jackson C. Boswell, Cervantes in Seventeenth-Century England: The Tapestry Turned (Oxford U. Press, 2009).

(6) The second part of the history of the Valorous and witty Knight-Errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha. Written in Spanish by Michael Ceruantes: and now translated into English (London, 1620), 427. Although many scholars have attributed this 1620 translation of the second part of Don Quixote to Thomas Shelton, whose translation of the first part was published in 1612 by Edward Blount, this second part was published anonymously (also by Blount). In the introduction to his 1881 translation of Don Quixote, Alexander Duffield expressed doubt that the 1620 translation was done by Shelton but provides no proof to support this claim. See Alexander Duffield, trans. The Ingenious Knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1881). Anthony George Lo Re makes the case that the second part was not translated by Shelton but rather by Leonard Digges and cites his reference to the tapestry simile I quote above as evidence in his case for Digges as the translator. See Lo Re, "The Putative Shelton Quixote Part II, with Leonard Digges as the Likely Translator," in Essays on the Periphery of the Quixote (Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1991), 29-43. Most recently, James H. Montgomery suggested that Shelton translated up through chap. 40 and that the remaining chapters were completed by a different anonymous translator. See James H. Montgomery, "Was Thomas Shelton the Translator of the 'Second Part' (1620) of Don Quixote?" Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 26.1 (2006): 209-17.

(7) On these trends in early modern discourses of translation see, in particular, Neil Rhodes, "Status Anxiety and English Renaissance Translation." In Renaissance Paratexts, ed. Helen Smith and Louise Wilson (Cambridge U. Press, 2011): 107-20. See also Glyn P. Norton The Ideology and Language of Translation in Renaissance France and Their Humanist Antecedents (Geneva: Droz, 1984).

(8) Dale B. J. Randall, The Golden Tapestry: A Critical Survey of Non-Chivalric Spanish Fiction in English Translation, 1543-1657 (Duke U. Press, 1963), 3. Returning to the passage in the introduction to Cervantes in Seventeenth-Century England: The Tapestry Turned, Randall and his coauthor Jackson C. Boswell declare that "the simile is, of course, only too accurate" (xxviii). In addition to the texts already listed above, see Michael J. McGrath, "Looking at Flemish Tapestries from the Front: A 'Perfect' English Translation of Don Quijote," in "Aqui se imprimen libros": Cervantine Studies in Honor of Tom Lathrop, ed. Mark Groundland (U. of Mississippi Press, 2008), 99-105, and Ilan Stavans, Quixote: The Novel and the World (New York: Norton, 2015), 172-204. Cervantes's use of this metaphor has had an afterlife in popular literature as well. In Carl Sagan's 1985 novel Contact, for example, the Soviet scientist Vaygay (Vasily Gregorovich Lunacharsky) cites the simile in a discussion about the transfer and decoding of "the Message": "Even if the Message cycles back and even if we completely decrypt it, how good could the translation be? You know the opinion of Cervantes? He said that reading a translation is like examining the back of a piece of tapestry." Sagan, Contact (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), 178.

(9) The interplay between authorship and translation has long been a part of the discourse of translation studies. Two recent collections of essays in particular demonstrate that scholars and practitioners of translation continue to bring a wide range of perspectives to this issue. Few of these studies, however, engage with the deep history of this relationship. See Claudia Buffagni, Beatrice Garzelli, and Serenella Zanotti, eds., The Translator as Author: Perspectives on Literary Translation Translator as Writer (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2011), and Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush, eds., The Translator as Writer (London: Continuum, 2006).

(10) Anne Coldiron has recently called for more rigorous historicizing in translation studies as she reconsiders the literary values and the translator's visibility in European writing before 1640. A. E. B. Coldiron, "Visibility Now: Historicizing Foreign Presences in Translation," Translation Studies 5.2 (2012): 189-200.

(11) See Theo Hermans, "Images of Translation: Metaphor and Imagery in the Renaissance Discourse on Translation," in The Manipulation of Literature, ed. Theo Hermans (London: Croom Helm, 1985), 103-35, and "Metaphor and Image in the Discourse on Translation: A Historical Survey," in Ubersetzung--Translation--Traduction: Ein Internationales Handbuch Zur Ubersetzungsforschung /An International Encyclopedia of Translation Studies / Encyclopedic Internationale de la Recherche Sur la Traduction, ed. Harald Kittel, et al (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011), 3:118-28. See also Massimiliano Morini, Tudor Translation in Theory and Practice (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 35, and A. E. B. Coldiron, "Commonplaces and Metaphors," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation, ed. Gordon Braden, Robert Cummings, and Stuart Gillespie (Oxford U. Press, 2011), 2:109-20.

(12) See, for instance, James St. Andre, ed. Thinking Through Translation with Metaphors (Manchester: St. Jerome, 2010).

(13) Rebecca Olson, Arras Hanging: The Textile That Determined Early Modern Literature and Drama (U. of Delaware Press, 2013).

(14) Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between East and West (London: Reaktion Books, 2000), 64-131. See also Thomas R Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence, The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition catalog (Yale U. Press, 2002), and Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court (Yale U. Press, 2007).

(15) Emily Francomano, "Reversing the Tapestry: Prison of Love in Text, Image, and Textile," Renaissance Quarterly 64.4 (2011): 1059-105.

(16) Sixteenth-century Flemish writer Justus Lipsius, for example, drew on the model of ancient Phrygian tapestry weavers to describe his writing method in the preface to his Politicorum sive Civilis doctrinae libri sex (1589): "Ad summam, ut Phrygiones e varii coloris filo unum aliquod aulaeum formant: sic nos e mille aliquot particulis uniforme hoc et cohaerens corpus (11)" ("In short, just as the Phrygians make one single tapestry out of a variety of colored threads, so I make this uniform and coherent work out of a myriad of parts.") Justus Lipsius, Politica: Six Books of Politics or Political Instruction, ed. and trans. Jan Waszink (Assen, Netherlands: Royal van Gorcum, 2004), 232-33.

(17) The Hues of the noble Grecians and Romanes, compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chaeronea, trans. Thomas North (London, 1579), 139. On the role of the tapestry in this episode, See Deborah Levine Gera, "Themistocles's Persian Tapestry," Classical Quarterly 57.2 (2007): 445-57.

(18) In the preface to the manuscript version of his 1537 translation of Sophocles's Electra, French translator Lazare de Baif draws on the Themistocles episode to make the explicit connection between translation and the reverse side of a tapestry, declaring that his text is Tenvers de la triumphante et excellente tapisserie de Sophocles" (the reverse of Sophocles's triumphant and excellent tapestry). Tragedie de Sophocles intitulee Electra, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, MS Francais XXIV (no. 235), fol. 1r-2r. This preface did not appear in the printed version published in Paris in 1537 by Estienne Roffet. For a full transcription of the preface, see Bernard Weinberg, ed., Critical Prefaces of the French Renaissance (Northwestern U. Press, 1950), 74-75.

(19) Translation mine. Luis Zapata, El arte poetica de Horacio (Lisbon, 1591), A2r. Here "la trama" can literally mean the weft (the horizontally woven threads of a textile) and figuratively mean the plot of what is depicted in the tapestry, which further demonstrates how interconnected texts and textiles were during this period. Zapata adds that "las obras traducidas son como los foragidos que se pasan a otros reynos, que raro hacen fortuna" (Translated works are like outlaws who switch over to other kingdoms, they rarely bring about fortune) (translation mine).

(20) Esteban Manuel de Villegas, Las eroticas: Y traduccion de Boecio Tomo II (Madrid 1774), a4v. Translation mine.

(21) Several critics have discussed the role of translation in the narrative framework of Don Quixote. See, among others, Michel Moner, "Cervantes y la traduccion," Nueva Revista de Filologia Hispanica 38 (1990): 513-24; Valentin Garcia Yebra, "El Quijoteyh traduccion," in Traduccion: historia y teoria (Madrid: Gredos, 1994), 187-202; and Hans Christian Hagedorn, La traduccion narrada, el recurso narrativo de la traduccion ficticia (Cuenca: Ediciones de la Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, 2006), 55-86.

(22) On the the figure of the translator within the novel, see Antonio Marti Alanis, "La funcion epistemologica del traductor de El Quijote," Anales Cervantinos 23 (1985): 31-46, and Elizabeth Welt Trahan, "The Arabic Translator in Don Quixote: His Master's Voice and Victim," in Translation Perspective: Selected Papers 1982-1983, ed. Marilyn Gaddis Rose (Binghamton, NY: Translation Research and Instruction Program, 1984), 71-85.

(23) The translators skepticism is most apparent in pt. 2, chap. 5, when he wonders whether what he translating is apocryphal. By calling attention to the apparent gaps in the original text through the voice of the translator, Cervantes positions his own text as an improvement upon its source. Other prominent episodes that feature moments or problems of translation in the novel include the examination of Quixote's library (pt. 1, chap. 6), the story of Ruy Perez de Viedma and Zoraida, known as "the captive's tale" (pt. 1, chap. 39-42) and that of the expelled morisco character Ricote and his daughter Ana Felix (pt. 2, chap. 54-55 and 63-65). For a survey of these and other episodes and the implicit praise of translation that they offer, see Wan Sonya Tang, '"Mirar tapices flamencos por el reves': Elogio implicito de la traduccion in Don Quijote," Revista de Estudios Hispanicos 42.3 (2008): 483-502.

(24) For a detailed reading of this interaction, see Helena Pereas de Ponseti, "Cervantes y su sentido de lengua: Traduccion," in Actas del II Coloquio Internacional de la Asociacion de Cervantistas (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1991), 111-22.

(25) Daniel O. Mosquera, "Don Quijote and the Quixotics of Translation," Romance Languages Annual 6(1994), 548. Beyond the world ot the novel, translators were sometimes regarded as the authors of their translation. See, for example, Sebastian de Covarrubias's 1611 definition of the word "traduccion," which uses the language of authorship to define the translator and the resulting work: "esta mesma obra y traductor, autor della." Tesoro de la lengua castellana o espanola, ed. Martin de Riquer (Barcelona: Alta Fulla, 2003), 972. "Mesma" in this case refers to the work described in the precededing definition of the word "traduzir," and Covarrubias refers to the translator as the author of the translated work. In other words, use of the word "autor" was not strictly limited to writers of "original" works and could be used to refer to translators as well.

(26) Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, ed. Francisco Rico (Madrid: Real Academia Espanola, 2004), 1032. The translation I am quoting here is the 1620 English version, The second part of the history of the valorous and witty knight-errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha. Written in Spanish by Michael Ceruantes: and now translated into English, 427. As I mentioned above, this translation has been attributed to Thomas Shelton because he published a translation of the first part in 1612, but there is no definitive evidence that he was the translator who completed the second part.

(27) Cervantes, Don Quijote, 1032.

(28) The second part of the history of the valorous and witty knight-errant, of the Mancha, 427.

(29) Candace Adelson, European Tapestry in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1994), 8-9.

(30) For a reading of the scene's commentary on translation and print culture, see Roger Chartier, The Author's Hand and the Printer's Mind (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 98-119.

(31) As Thomas Campbell explains, "[p]reduction conditions were inauspicious for the survival of tapestry cartoons. Before weaving started cartoons were generally cut into strips and pinned against the plain warp threads, so that the weavers could trace the outlines onto the warps in ink or charcoal." Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, 43. He goes on to note that the cartoons often had to be repaired because the paint cracked or chipped off during the weaving process.

(32) See, for instance, Edward C. Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), and "Three Versions of Don Quixote',' Modern Language Review 68.4 (1973): 807-19. See also, Roger Chartier, Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 25-45.

(33) Jorge Luis Borges explored this threat in his short story "Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote" (1939), in which a French writer sets out to translate, or rewrite, Cervantes's novel for a modern audience but ends up merely copying Cervantes's words exactly and ironically receives the praise for his superior version. Georgina Dopico Black has argued that Borges's story is an echo of the anxiety surrounding the "false Quixote" and notes that Avellaneda is "an earlier Menard." Black, "Pierre Menard, traductor del Quijote; or Echo's Echoes," Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 31.1 (2011): 38.

(34) In her book Deconstruction and Translation, Kathleen Davis makes the argument that translation and deconstruction are deeply implicated in one another and that they "share the same stakes." Davis, Deconstruction and Translation, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2014), 1.

(35) Terry Eagleton, Against the Grain: Essays 1975-1985 (New York: Verso, 1986), 80. I am grateful to Emily Francomano for this reference.

(36) Miguel de Cervantes, Novelas ejemplares I, ed. Harry Sieber (Madrid: Catedra, 2005), 52; ("I am the first to have written novels in the Castilian language, since the many that are printed in Spanish have all been translated from foreign languages, whereas these are my own, neither imitated nor stolen. My mind conceived them, my pen brought them forth, and they have grown in the arms of the printing press." Three Exemplary Novels), trans. Samuel Putnam (New York: Viking Press, 1950), 5-6.
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Author:Santos, Kathryn Vomero
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Jun 22, 2016
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