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The International Circulation of Women’s Writings

The International Circulation of Women’s Writings:
the Case of Stéphanie de Genlis as Received in Several European Countries

Organizers / Chairs: Suzan van Dijk and Francesca Scott

Francesca Scott and Suzan van Dijk:
Brief introduction presenting the Digital Tool and an Interesting Case (Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis).

The WomenWriters database was used during the last decade as the common framework in which researchers from over 20 countries stored data concerning the production and reception of publications by women authors. Developed now, thanks to CLARIN-NL and HERA funding, into a Virtual Research Environment, and available soon, there will be more opportunities for studying on a large-scale the role of female authorship and also the presence in the whole Europe of a number of interesting women.
Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis is one of those. A brief insight is given in one of her novels : La Duchesse de La Vallière (1804) incorporates an interesting narrative topos, potentially “female” by the way in which it is handled: a concealed pregnancy followed by an explicit childbirth scene – possibly a kind of "punishment" for the woman’s transgression. It is obviously a challenge for translators.

Hilde Hoogenboom:
Madame de Genlis in Russia, England and Germany.

Around 1800, Genlis was the most popular French writer in Russia, England, and Germany. Russian library and master catalogs show 87 titles and editions and 148 serial publications from 1779 to 1871. Approximately 90 translations, reprinted three times (1816, 1822, 1835), belong to Karamzin. Genlis’s popularity prompted a prolonged backlash. Pushkin and Belinsky criticized her; as late as 1900, the bibliographer Semen Vengerov still vilified her influence: “The works of Genlis were translated in Russia to such an unheard-of extent that in a way they turned into a domestic hazard to good taste”. I will be using the tool WomenWriters.nl to trace the translations, especially by Karamzin, of works by Madame de Genlis in Russia, in comparison with Germany and England. This is a way to show the extent of the integration of Russia’s literary market with the European market more broadly.

Amelia Sanz:
Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis in Spain from 19th to 20th century.

***As Amelia Sanz eventually could not be with us in the session, her contribution being only summarized, we publish here pdfs of the complete text, and of the corresponding powerpoint slides.

With a group of students we have already explored the testimonies of Genlis’ reception in the 19th-century Spanish press, working with digitized newspapers we find in the two main Virtual Newspapers Libraries in Spain. We will now make a step forward to reach a very interesting translation of Genlis’ La Duchesse de La Vallière, the only one of these novels to be translated in Spanish: La duquesa de La Vallière, la voluptuosa (Madrid, 1925), a volume which was part of the “Women in love” collection at the beginning of the 20th century. We will study this translation and its reception in the contemporary Spanish press, comparing with references to Mme de Genlis all over the 19th century.

Ileana Mihaila:
Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis et ses lecteurs/trices et traducteurs/trices roumain(e)s.

The particular interest in the literary writings of Stéphanie-Felicité de Genlis shown by Romanian readers and translators is a richly detailed and significant page in the history of the reception of French feminine literature in the Romanian cultural space.

It is even more interesting to consider her influence in the context of the complex relationship established in that period in Romanian literature between the new model of historical novel, imposed by the Romanticism, and the “old” Classicist way, less focused on the sentimental plot and more dedicated to the pedagogical perspective (as in the popular works of Madame de Genlis). There were not many feminine authors in the Romanian culture of those days, but they were eager to conquer a better place in the literary field. The example of Madame de Genlis, by her unique combination of life and works, as well as her European fame, could be considered a probable cause of the multiplication of the efforts of this new generation of Romanian women writers, educated in Romanian and French institutions as well, who were able to combine pedagogical aims, scientific knowledge (mostly historical, but also in the field of natural sciences), literary talent and foreign languages skills in their activities.

Well-known names in the Romanian feminist struggle for a fair recognition in the cultural and social field, such as Sofia Cocea, Maria Rosetti and Maria Flechtenmacher, her translators (1854; 1866; 1878), prove that their choice was not accidental, but in relation with their own writings and aims. We must add the name of Helena Baitler who, in 1875, makes a dramatic adaptation of Le Siège de La Rochelle.

Could she be one of the models for the works of Constanţa Dunca-Schiau (better known, but not unique, is her historical novel, Les Roumains et les Phanariotes, published in 1862 in Paris)? Could she represent a path to integration in early Romanian literature of a European feminine literary model?

This session takes place:
Tuesday 28 July, 09:00 - 10:30,
Room: M1-16: Heidelberg Room: Van Der Goot Building, EUR University of Rotterdam

Suzan van Dijk
Francesca Scott

SvD, July 2015

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