‘A Scorneful Image of this Present World’

Translating and Mistranslating Erasmus's Words in Henrician England

in Critical Survey
Luca BarattaUniversity of Naples ‘Parthenope’, Italy luca.baratta@uniparthenope.it

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Many of Erasmus of Rotterdam's works were translated into English during the reign of Henry VIII. In the process of translation, the original intention of these texts was often subverted, as Erasmus's reputation was appropriated by his translators and their patrons to serve a variety of political and religious agendas. The present article is devoted to the translating history of one of Erasmus's works, Sileni Alcibiadis, a proverb that was detached from the huge paremiographic repository known as Adagia and published as an autonomous work in London in the early 1540s. By highlighting corrections, retouchings and omissions, the article aims at pointing out the ways in which the anonymous translator adapted Erasmus's text to a different cultural and pedagogic context. The final purpose of this work is to show the way in which Erasmus's political thought ‘migrates’, with partial manipulations, into the turbulent context of mid-sixteenth-century England.

Contributor Notes

Luca Baratta is Senior Lecturer in English Language and Translation at the University of Naples ‘Parthenope’. He is the author of the monographs «A Marvellous and Strange Event». Racconti di nascite mostruose nell'Inghilterra della prima età moderna (2016), The Age of Monsters. Nascite prodigiose nell'Inghilterra della prima età moderna: storia, testi, immagini (2017) and Senza testa / Headless (2018). He is also the editor of the first critical edition of Thomas D'Urfey's work The Comical History of Don Quixote – Part I (2019). His research interests are mainly devoted to the social and cultural history of early modern England. E-mail: luca.baratta@uniparthenope.it

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