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Jane Austen in France

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room
Workshop: 
Seminar on the Enlightenment and Revolution, 1660-1830
Meeting Description: 
About the speaker:
Isabelle Bour is a professor of eighteenth-century British Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she runs the Institute of Eighteenth-Century Studies and Research. Her recent research focuses on the epistemology of sensibility and on the reception and translation of British authors in Europe. She contributed three chapters to The Reception of Jane Austen in Europe (Continuum, 2007) and, with Judith Zinsser, she translated a selection of scientific and philosophical texts by Emilie Du Châtelet (Chicago University Press, 2009). Her edition of the works of Mary Wollstonecraft translated into French in the eighteenth century is forthcoming from Garnier. Her current project is an intellectual biography of Wollstonecraft that will look afresh at her standing in France. In 2000 Bour was awarded the Order of the Palmes académiques for services at the Ecole polytechnique.
 
Meeting description:
I shall consider what French historians of literature had to say about women writers and French and British fiction at the time when Austen was publishing her novels, which is also the time when they were translated into French—all of them became available in French between 1815 and 1824. That will provide a sketch of the critical context and will help one understand the reception of Austen. Then I shall discuss translators’ prefaces to novels by Austen: in the absence of any early French reviews, they provide valuable information about the perception of Austen’s fiction on the Continent; what translators said will be related to what they did to and with the works they adapted. Finally, I will discuss the main pronouncements of French critics in the 19th century: there was about one important article every ten years from the 1840s onwards. By pursuing those three strands, I hope to refine our understanding of the nineteenth-century perception of women’s fiction and 
of Austen’s innovativeness in particular.

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