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Therese Albertine Luise von Jakob-Robinson (Talvj), German writer, translator and intercultural mediator, 1797-1870

By Juliana Jovi?i?, University of Novi Sad

Therese Albertine Luise von Jakob-Robinson, or Talvj as she called herself, was a women writer of extraordinary skills and background. She was transnational and multilingual in a very special way: she was a writer, a translator, a publisher and also acted as an intercultural mediators. A diaspora women writer, Talvj used her specific multinational and bi/multilingual background to participate in international currents.

Born in 1797 in Halle, Germany, she spent 44 years of her life abroad: 10 in Russia while she was a child, 34 in America as mature woman married to American protestant theologian and scholar Edward Robinson, opposed to only 29 years in Germany. She published around 49 reviews, criticisms, novels and scholarly works in well-known journals and under well-known publishers in both America in English and Germany in German language. Talvj was familiar with Slavic, German, Oriental and American resp. Anglo-Saxon culture and a great number of her works refer to these different cultures and nations. She was among the most famous Slavists in Europe and the first in America, where she founded the discipline of American Slavonic studies.

Talvj started her career with translating more than 200 Serbian folk poems under the title Serbian Folk Songs, a work first published in Halle in 1825|26 and afterwards republished in Halle/Leipzig (1836) and in Leipzig (1853). Talvj’s translations were normative for other translators: they used her German translations to translate the poems in their own languages. Furthermore she also introduced the Serbian folk poems into very important and influent German literary salons in Berlin, Halle, Leipzig and other major cities of this time. A great number of well known intellectuals and writers were involved in the genesis and distribution of these poems, such as Goethe, Jakob Grimm, Jernej Kopitar and Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, which makes Talvj’s translation a product of an international collaboration and environment. Talvj had the skills and the transnational background to cope with this challenge and she used her proficiency to bring this international collaboration to a successful end. Even though Talvj as a woman was marginalized in many ways in her native and adopted country, her work is of huge value and needs to be recognized today.


As mentioned before, Talvj also wrote and published several novels, books and reviews, not only in Germany, but also in America. Some of the titles are:

  • 1. "Historical View of the Slavic Languages in its Various Dialects, with Special References to Theological Literature". In: The Biblical Repository <Andover> 4(1834), S. 328 - 532.
  • 2. "Spanish Populär Poetry". In: North American Review 54(1842) 115, S. 419 - 446.
  • 3. History of the Colonisation of America. Transl. and ed. by William Hazlitt. 2. Vol. London: New by 1851.
  • 4. "Popular Poetry of the Teutonic Nations". In North American Review 43 (1836), S. 264 - 339; [Talvj] "Slavic Populär Poetry". In: North American Review 43 (1836) 92, S. 85 - 120.
  • 5. Heliose or The Unrevealed Secret. A Tale. New York 1850.
  • 6. The Exiles. A Tale. New York: P. Putnam 1853.
  • 7. "Early Poetry of France". In: Putnam's Monthly Magazine 2(1853), S. 361 - 370.
  • 8. "The Private Life and Household of Charlemagne". In: North American Review 81 (1855) 169, S. 112 -159.
  • 9. "Slavery in Russian". In: North American Review 82(1856) 171, S. 293 -318.
  • 10. "The German Populär Legend of Doctor Faustus". In: Atlantic Monthly 2(1858) S. 551 - 566.

To be pointed out is her essay on German women writers of the past:

  • 11. "Deutschlands Schriftstellerinnen bis vor hundert Jahren". In: Historisches Ta¬schenbuch. Hrsg. v. Friedrich v. Raumer. <Leipzig> 4. Folge, 2 (1861) S. 1 -141;

Even though Talvj as a woman was marginalized in many ways in her native and adopted country, her work is of huge value and needs to be recognized today.

AsK October 2011

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