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Daphne Hoogenboezem

Marvel, Feminism and Reason. The adaptations of Marie-Cathérine d’Aulnoy’s fairy tales by Agatha

Reinoudina de Goeje (1833 -1893), a Dutch author and translator, published most of her work using the pseudonym Agatha. A complete bibliography of her oeuvre has not been made so far, but will include various children’s books, translations from English, French, German and Italian, historical novels, various feminist writings such as a book on famous Dutch women and her contributions to one of the very first Dutch proto-feminist journals, Ons Streven, of which she also was the editor in chief (1870 – 1878).

Through her writings we can get a glimpse of her ideas on the role women should play in society, her opinion on the international feminist movement and on pedagogy. Her correspondence with various Dutch editors shows Agatha’s interest in foreign authors. She proposes to translate various international titles of which no Dutch translation existed at her time and refuses to work on books that she does not consider suitable reading for young girls. Her ideas on feminism and pedagogy do not only reflect in her letters and feminist texts, but also in the choice she made to translate from the French Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s fairy tales, which had originally been published in 1697-1698.

In recent analyses D’Aulnoy’s tales, in which energetic heroines often outwit weak male characters, are considered feminist stories avant la lettre. The active role of the female characters possibly inspired Agatha. However, she did not only translate the tales but also adapted them in various ways. The adaptations by Agatha include changes in the dialogues and the behaviour of the characters and do not always result, as one might expect, in a more autonomous female character. The keyword to her interpretation of the tales and her vision on feminism seems to be: reason or sense. In this paper, I will explore Agatha’s views on moral, marvel and on feminism by analysing the role women play in her retellings of the tales.

SvD, April 2008

  • Conferences > NEWW international conferences > Chawton 2008 > Hoogenboezem

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