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Ramona Mihaila

Women Translating Women:
The Transnational Reception of 18th-Century European Women Writers in 19th-Century Romania


In the 19th century most of the first Romanian women writers stepped on the public stage as journalists or translators and their writings were addressing especially other women. Their first translations covered a wide range of topics and genres: poetry, drama, prose, and non-fictional works such as speeches, memoirs or newspaper articles. Most translations were from French – as a result of social circumstances, in particular the use of French in upper classes especially where women were concerned: French governesses, French lessons in curricula of schools for girls, young ladies sent to study in pensions ran by French headmistresses. The number of women capable of translating from French was relatively important.

The present contribution is part of the research I am conducting within the COST Action Women Writers In History. Together with the Romanian team of researchers, we work on the role of women as translators, and of translation as a way used by women for entering the literary world. For the moment little is known about their activities and generally they are not mentioned in dictionaries or in histories of Romanian literature, while male authors have their pride of place no matter how much they wrote or translated.

Women’s writings can be found in particular in the periodical press, which up to now has only partially been consulted about this: journals, almanacs, literary magazines, theatre journals. The women’s press was also extremely important in this respect: Maria Rosetti, who ran the journal Mama ?i copilul (Mother and Child), translated Madame de Genlis’ Zuma. And in the journal Femeia Român? (The Romanian Woman) (January 1878 - April 1881) there is an important number of anonymous translations published in installments that may be attributed to the journal’s editor Maria Flechtenmacher, such as Florile ?i arti?tii (Flowers and Artists), a short story written by Madame de Genlis.

The whole domain needs to be thoroughly mapped, which is being done within the context of this COST-WWIH Action.

SvD, June 2013

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