Jump to: navigation, search

Monica Bolufer

‘To the fair sex’ or ‘for all kinds of readers’?
Imagining an audience for women writers in eighteenth-century Spain.


This paper is an exploration of paratexts which usually accompanied translations of texts written by French and British women writers in eighteenth-century Spain, by male and female translators, in order to exploit their many possibilities as sources for documenting and analysing contemporary reception.

In previous work (both individual and in collaboration with Juan Gomis), I have dealt with the reception (more specifically, the translation) in eighteenth-century Spain of European women writers, and established its quantitative dimension, in the context of the boom of translation in Spain in the second half of the eighteenth century, and compared the data with the evidence contained in the WomenWriters database for other countries and national literatures - with interesting conclusions concerning the numbers, identities and dates of those authors and works which were translated. I have been able to establish the role played by translations of women authors (and, more generally, their being known – read, but also simply heard of - to the Spanish public) in the building of a legitimacy for women’s writing and publishing.

In this paper, I would like to move on to considering the modes of reception of these works, using as main sources the paratexts (or, adopting Genette’s categories, peritexts) that accompanied translations: mainly translator’s prefaces, but also dedications, footnotes and subscription lists, and complementing them with other types of evidence. I am particularly interested in the issue of implied or imagined audiences, that is: what type of public(s) is (are) represented, constructed or sought by translators when making available a foreign work in a new and different linguistic, social and cultural context? to what extent the gender of the author (and/or the translators) contributes to shape it, and what type of relationship the translator establishes with the public in a particular context? For this purpose, a systematic survey of paratexts contained in Spanish translations of eighteenth-century women writers will be conducted, and evidence gathered will be analysed, using complementary sources when necessary.

AsK, September 2012

Personal tools