"Translation does not often demand genius": George Eliot e il ruolo del traduttore vittoriano


George Eliot’s formative years were characterised by her intense activity as a translator which she carried out with methodological scrupulousness and profound sense of responsibility. In her ambition to make a name for herself in the English cultural world she understood, from a very early age, that translation would be the best means of expanding her knowledge while measuring herself against original texts that had made an important impact on European culture. Although Eliot was proficient in several modern and ancient languages (namely, German, French, Italian and Spanish, Latin, Greek and Hebrew), most of her translations were from German. It was with her translation of Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu that she proved her skill as a translator. Through this work her name also became familiar in Victorian theological debates. No less important was her translation of Feuerbach’s Das Wesen Christentums which, in many respects, led to her acceptance into the most advanced literary and philosophical circles in London. On the strength of this, in 1855, Eliot published the essay Translations and Translators which she wrote from her point of view as an affirmed journalist who was perhaps already contemplating the idea of becoming a novelist. The essay reveals both Eliot’s acute awareness of translation as a demanding work and of the role of the translator as a mediator between different linguistic and cultural realities. By indicating Germany as an example to follow, since in that nation the great poets and novelists translated the English classics into German, Eliot bluntly declared that the translator must work with a sense of responsibility and moral commitment and always aim for perfection.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v15p201

Keywords: George Eliot; Translations and Translators; translation studies; authorship and gender; Victorian culture.


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