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The Medieval Translator, vol. 2.

This handsome volume, the proceedings of a 1987 Cardiff conference on translation in the Middle Ages, contains twelve chapters (after a short editorial introduction) on various aspects of mediaeval translation. It is thus a further addition to the welcome upsurge of interest in this neglected and underrated area of mediaeval literary activity. The papers printed here display a wide geographical sweep: from Wales to Scandinavia, Toledo to Anglo-Norman England, with pride of place being given to mediaeval English material from Latin and Anglo-Norman or Old French sources. Karen Pratt looks at (Latin) rhetorical theory and (German) poetic practice in courtly works translated from French; Clara Foz presents a useful summary of the output and work-force of the so-called |Toledo school'; Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan offers a general discussion of Welsh translations of French literary texts; Lars Wollin investigates the |Great Translation Workshop' o the monastery of Vadstena in Sweden and its contribution to the formation of standard Swedish; Jeanette Beer surveys the presentation of Julius Caesar in Li Fet des Romains; Leslie Brook returns to Jean de Meun's translation of the Abelard-Heloise correspondence, with a close analysis of the translator's language; N. S. Thompson assesses Chaucer's Troilus as not just a translation, but a transposition, of Boccaccio's Filostrato into a broad discussion of ethical problems; Robert Easting compares the three Middle English versions of the Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii; Domenico Pezzini provides a detailed grammatical study of translation practice in the case of Middle English versions of the Revelations of St Bridget (a text which is also dealt with in Wollin's paper); Maldwyn Mills looks at the Middle English texts of Guy of Warwick, and Brenda Hosington discusses the English translation of the Old French Partonopeu de Blois; finally, C. W. Marx considers some of the particular problems involved in editing a Middle English translation of an Anglo-Norman original (the Complaint of Our Lady and Gospel of Nicodemus), emphasizing that translation is often a form of textual revision. The collection is completed by an index, but no bibliography. The emphasis is literary cultural rather than linguistic, and the texts (and thus registers) dealt with remain firmly in the literary and doctrinal spheres. It is perhaps a pity that none of the contributors steps outside this domain to look at (say) more down-to-earth scientific, administrative or legal texts. Perhaps the next stage in the rehabilitation of mediaeval translation is to address the problems so successfully raised here, but in other types of text.
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Author:Trotter, D.A.
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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