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Marie Sorbo

The image of the female author in Norwegian translations of Burney, Eliot, Kennedy and Ward.


My contribution to the 2010 focus on quantitative approaches to "Women Writers In History" was to start investigating the translation of British women authors into Norwegian before 1900. The result was a preliminary overview of the translation of 19th-century novelists, including an overview of novelists that were indeed not translated. This took the form of a presentation at the Turku May meeting, and also exists in the shape of a manuscript, and several catalogues. In the autumn, much of this information was entered into the database, during the Th Hague training school in October.

I start with this summary because I agree with the assumption made in the Milestone document that such quantitative work must be continued also in coming years, alongside the various qualitative investigations. I would like to continue the work by checking earlier authors, and authors in other genres, not least poetry, or travel writing. I think it should remain a priority for all of us to see to it that the database is continuously expanding, since its future value as a research tool depends on the quantity of data in it.

With this point of departure, I would also like to contribute to the more qualitative focus chosen for 2011, and to do this by looking more closely at some of the material collected in the first quantitative phase. Since Working Group 3 focused to a large extent on paratexts, and in particular prefaces, it makes sense to continue this by selecting some for a closer study of either a) women’s self-presentation (apologetic or confident?), or b) how editors present women writers.

I propose giving a presentation of the evaluations of the author in autographic and allographic prefaces/postfaces of the Norwegian 19th-century translations of Fanny Burney, Grace Kennedy, George Eliot and Mary Ward. These are the authors that stand out from the rest of the material simply by being given prefaces, where most translations are without. I will also consider the significance of other paratextual material, which in these cases may be used to give readers an impression of the author’s genre and status.

AsK, September

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