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Flaubert and the retranslation of Madame Bovary

Sharon Deane

Résumés

Dans toute l’œuvre de Flaubert, c’est Madame Bovary qui a connu la fréquence de retraduction la plus haute dans la littérature britannique. Une étude de ces retraductions montre comment et quand elles sont apparues au sein d’une configuration socioculturelle et économique en train d’évoluer. Cette approche historique réexamine les hypothèses admises jusqu’à présent en ce qui concerne le rôle de la retraduction : au lieu d’une trajectoire simple, d’une première traduction déficiente vers une retraduction récente et parfaite, nous découvrons un paysage plus complexe. Avec Madame Bovary, nous pouvons évaluer jusqu’à quel point sont brouillés les critères de la retraduction, et identifier les signes d’un retour en arrière, les luttes pour se distinguer des traductions précédentes, aussi bien que l’impact collectif de ce corpus.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 See Appendix.
  • 2 Gustave Flaubert, letter to Ernest Duplan, 12 juin 1862, Correspondance, tome III, Paris, Gallimard (...)
  • 3 Ibid.
  • 4 This bibliographical survey will limit itself to those versions which were produced by a British tr (...)

1The history of the British translations of Madame Bovary1 begins in very close proximity to Flaubert himself, with the author proclaiming the very first version, carried out under his own gaze by Juliet Herbert, English governess to his niece, to be no less than a “chef d’œuvre”2. However, Flaubert’s attempts to secure a publishing deal in London for the translation are thwarted, leading him to turn his back on the endeavour of translation with the declaration that he is “prêt à abandonner tout”3. He thereby seals the fate of Herbert’s work which never makes an appearance in print and has long since been lost in the annals of obscurity. And yet this faltering start does not set the tone for the subsequent fate of Madame Bovary translations in the British literary system; rather, from amongst Flaubert’s entire body of work, it is indeed Madame Bovary which has undergone the highest volume of retranslation. In specific, the novel has been translated, in full, seven times4, over a period which spans from the end of the nineteenth century to present day, while a plethora of reprints and re-editions has further served to ensure its consistent presence throughout this time.

  • 5 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 5.
  • 6 Ibid.
  • 7 Ibid.

2In light of this multiplicity of versions, it is important to investigate the role which retranslation has played in the dissemination of Flaubert and Madame Bovary in Britain. While the general phenomenon of retranslation is widespread, current thinking with regard to its causes and implications tends to be somewhat restrictive in its scope. One of the most dominant theories on retranslation has arisen from the work of Antoine Berman who presents a rationale for retranslation which is grounded in the notion of “la défaillance originelle”5, whereby any initial act of translation is deemed to be “aveugle et hésitante”6. Consequently, retranslation responds to the notion that “[i]l faut tout le chemin de l’expérience pour parvenir à une traduction consciente d’elle-même”7, thus boasting a restorative function which resides in the forward momentum of improvement. Accordingly, the initial translation of Madame Bovary should reveal itself to be deficient, while this assumed teleological progression ought to lead us towards ever more accomplished versions.

  • 8 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)

3This then begs the question as to whether the British retranslations of Flaubert’s work follow such a straightforward, chronological trajectory. In order to fully explore the dynamics of these texts, the present paper will adopt an historical approach; while Berman focuses on intrinsically textual issues, it is crucial to realize that retranslation is a complex, multifaceted process of transmission, substitution and duplication which is played out, over time, against the shifting background of a literary system. To this end, the retranslations of Madame Bovary will be explored in reference to Bourdieu’s concept of the literary field, this “champ de luttes de concurrence”8, paying particular attention to the struggles and interactions between the extant retranslations as a means of determining whether or not accomplishment can truly be framed in terms of the restoration of the source text. In order to identify the prevailing attitudes towards Flaubert and Madame Bovary, as well as the extent and nature of synergy between the retranslation, a paratextual analysis will be undertaken which draws on Genette’s distinction between the peritext and the epitext. In the first case, the supporting material, such as prefaces, introductions or notes, found within the various editions of the work often reveals the attitudes held by the translator and/or publisher with regard to Flaubert, the source text and other translations thereof; in the second case, the opinions inscribed in external elements, e.g. journal articles, reviews, advertisements, will also bear witness to the changing status of the author, his works and the retranslations. As opposed to a comparative linguistic study, this socio-cultural and historical approach to retranslation allows a more comprehensive survey of the way in which Madame Bovary has been diffused and received over time in Britain.

Entry Conditions

  • 9 Op. cit., p. 7.
  • 10 Terry Hale, “Readers and Publishers of Translations in Britain”, The Oxford History of Literary Tra (...)

4That the two literary systems of France and Britain were closely interlinked during the nineteenth century is beyond doubt; writers, ideas, styles and genres circulated relatively freely between the two poles. But to begin with, this mutual influence owed very little to translation. As Bourdieu notes, the literary field is based on a “principe d’hiérarchisation interne”9 whereby each entrant occupies a position relative to its perceived degree of symbolic capital; given that “the wealthiest and most literate segment of society could read much foreign literature without the help of translation”10, as was most certainly the case as far as French was concerned, it follows that the educated elite, who occupied a dominant position in the internal hierarchy, granted prestige to the French source texts themselves, marginalizing translation to a peripheral position. However, in order to fully set the scene for the first published translation of Madame Bovary into English, it must be said that such incorporation of French literature in its original form was tempered by a latent distrust of foreign morality. Such suspicion is nowhere more evident than in the ultra-conservative Quarterly Review which in 1862 denounces Madame Bovary, side by side with Napoleon III, purporting that:

  • 11 “Les Misérables”, The Quarterly Review, 112, 224, October 1862, p. 272-273.

his era enervated the minds of its inhabitants with a literature as filthy, as frivolous, and as false as ever sapped the morals of a nation, or made the fortune of a publisher. Such works as ‘Madame Bovary’, […] poisoned by the nastiness of a prurient mind and set out with all the artifice of a showy pen, are not so much outrages on decency as signs of the times amid which they crawled out of the dunghill – their author’s brains11.

  • 12 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)

5Thus, while the symbolic capital of French source texts may have been considerable in the higher echelons of society, the literary field is at the same time susceptible to pressure from the “champ de pouvoir”, whose agents “ont pour enjeu la transformation ou la conservation de la valeur relative des différentes espèces de capital”12; for the moral authorities of Britain, what then is at stake in this latter part of the nineteenth century is to prevent the spread of this pernicious threat from abroad amongst all levels of society.

  • 13 Ibid., p. 33.
  • 14 George Saintsbury, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, April 1878, 23, 136, p. 577.
  • 15 N. H. Kennard, “Gustave Flaubert and George Sand”, Nineteenth Century: a monthly review, 20, 117, N (...)

6Notably, there is a gap of almost thirty years which separates the publication of the source text and the appearance of the initial British version in 1886, translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, daughter of Karl Marx, and published in London by Vizetelly & Co. Undoubtedly, the prevalence of the above conditions held the translation at bay, and may perhaps go some way to explaining why Flaubert himself was unable to fix a publisher: any interested parties would already have had access to his work in the original, whilst an act of translation may have attracted the unwanted attention of the censors. But, a literary system is in a constant change of flux, and one of the major driving forces is “l’apparition de nouvelles catégories de consommateurs qui, étant en affinité avec les nouveaux producteurs, assurent la réussite de leurs produits”13. Thus, as a new mass reading public emerges in Britain in the wake of educational reforms, publishers begin to produce cheaper works of fiction: one way in which to meet this growing new demand for affordable and popular literature is supplement ones catalogue with translation, not least since uncertain and unforced copyright laws and the low rate of pay for translators meant that this option was a cost-effective one. Likewise, the moral threat posed by Flaubert appears to have lessened with time; already by 1878, the shockwaves created by the author’s trial in Paris have subsided as critic and academic George Saintsbury claims that “the prosecution is now defended by nobody”14, while in the year of Marx-Aveling’s translation, Flaubert is being classified as “one of the high priests” of fiction15.

  • 16 Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, Émile Zola: Novelist and Reformer, John Lane, London, 1904, p. 257.
  • 17 Ibid., p. 286.
  • 18 Much research has been undertaken into Eleanor Marx-Aveling’s translation of Madame Bovary. For a d (...)

7However, despite the field appearing ripe for Madame Bovary towards the end of the century, the history of the Marx-Aveling translation is a turbulent one. To begin, Vizetelly & Co., established in 1880 and therefore a relatively new entrant into the publishing world of London, came under attack by the National Vigilance Society, formed “ostensibly for the purpose of protecting boys and girls against what was called ‘pernicious literature’”16. Their primary grievance was the company’s translations of Zola, notably versions of L’Assommoir, Germinal and Le Ventre de Paris, and Henry Vizetelly found himself twice convicted on charges of obscenity. Indeed, Madame Bovary was itself implicated in the charges, but given the apparent turn in critical opinion, “the summons respecting that work was eventually adjourned sine die17. Ultimately though, the publisher who had first introduced Madame Bovary to the masses was unable to recover financially from the prosecutions, and the company was ruined. Secondly, the fate of the Eleanor Marx-Aveling herself lends an additional layer of pertinence, in particular the translator’s suicide by prussic acid which bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Emma18.

8Moreover, the translation itself has attracted no shortage of criticism. On its publication in 1886, a review in The Athenaeum greats the efforts of Marx-Aveling unfavourably:

  • 19 “Novels of the Week”, The Athenaeum, 3075, October 1886, p. 429 f.

Mrs. Aveling has done her work with more zeal than discretion. […] The translation is laborious, but unequally effective. Mrs. Aveling seems to have thought it incumbent on her to translate as far as possible word for word, and this can never result in anything but an unsatisfactory version when two languages so different in genius as French and English are concerned. Besides, even her word-for-word system has not been successfully carried out. […] [W]hen a writer takes such superhuman trouble as Flaubert did to choose exactly the words and phrases that suited his meaning, and no others, it is incumbent on his translator not to be content with a mere approximation19.

  • 20 Eleanor Marx-Aveling, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, Vizetelly & Co., London, 1886, p. xxii.

9Such charges are even echoed by the translator herself who claims in her introduction to the Vizetelly edition that “no critic can be more painfully aware than I am of the weaknesses, the shortcomings, the failures of my work. […] It is pale and feeble by the side of the original”20. This self-effacing stance may have conformed to the norms of the era, whereby a translator lauded the primacy of the original, but it nevertheless serves to propagate the viewpoint that this version is in someway defective, seemingly substantiating Berman’s claims.

  • 21 This phenomenon is not unique to Britain. Emily Apter also notes “the curious survival of this earl (...)
  • 22 Peter France, “French”, The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 4, 2006, p. 241

10But in the face of its supposed flaws, the translation has thrived in the British literary system, having been taken up by a further nine different publishers and reissued a total of fifteen times, with the most recent reprint appearing in 200721. Besides the evident economic incentive of an expired copyright, the frequency with which this version has been reprised by publishers would suggest that the translation has an appeal that extends beyond its reputation of “mak[ing] little attempt to match Flaubert’s highly worked style”22. This quantitative evidence in itself suggests that the teleological progression of retranslation may be somewhat more confused than previously assumed.

Alterations and altercations

  • 23 Eleanor Marx-Aveling, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, Vizetelly & Co., London, 1886, p. vii.
  • 24 George Saintsbury, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, 23, 136, April 1878, p. 580 f.
  • 25 Peter France & Kenneth Hayes, “The Publication of Literary Translation: An Overview”, The Oxford Hi (...)

11Before turning our attention towards the concrete challenges which appeared in the form of retranslations, it is first important to examine in more depth the status which the Marx-Aveling translation attributes to itself as “the first English one of ‘Madame Bovary’”23. It is significant that the British public had, in actual fact, access to a partial translation of some key passages of the work as early as 1878 when George Saintsbury published an essay on Flaubert in the Fortnightly Review. Here, Saintsbury incorporates the translation of three lengthy passages from the work; an extract from I.7 (in which Emma questions her decision to marry Charles) is employed as a means of illustrating Flaubert’s style, while two passages are taken from II.12 (where Charles’ dreams for the future are juxtaposed against those of Emma) in support of what Saintbury holds to be a “masterpiece of ironical contrast”24. Furthermore, this practice was not uncommon in such British periodicals where “reviews covered both foreign literature, sometimes offering extracts newly translated by the reviewer, and English translations”25; the Saintsbury translation can thus be accredited as the first real point of entry granted to the source text.

12Unquestionably, Marx-Aveling’s version can still lay claim to the status of the first definitive translated version; but on superficial level, the boundaries of retranslation become blurred since her work now incorporates what can be defined as a retranslation of the above passages. In his survey of the various moments of translation, Berman outlines a chain reaction commencing the moment a work is read in its original form in the receiving system, after which point:

  • 26 Take for example Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Doctor’s Wife, 1864.

elle peut être publiée sous une forme « adaptée »26 si elle « heurte » trop les « normes » littéraires autochtones ; puis vient le temps d’une courageuse introduction sans prétention littéraire (destinée généralement à ceux qui étudient cette œuvre) ; puis vient le moment des premières traductions à ambition littéraire, généralement partielles et, comme on sait, les plus frappées de défectivité ; puis vient celui des (multiples) traductions. [my emphasis]

13Following these categories, it can be argued that both the partial Saintsbury version, with its emphasis on the literary merit of Flaubert, and the Marx-Aveling version can be located under the heading of ‘première traduction’; this lack of distinction attests to the ambiguity which can then pervade any examination of retranslations.

  • 27 Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx, volume 2: The Crowded Years, 1884-1898. London, Lawrence and Wishart, 19 (...)
  • 28 This article was published again in 1891 in George Saintsbury’s Essays on French Novelists, London, (...)

14Furthermore, this typography becomes even more disordered when we realize what occurs in the J. M. Dent reprint of Marx-Aveling’s translation, first issued in 1928. In her biography of Marx-Aveling, Kapp remarks in passing that Dent drops the original introduction to the work27; however, this exclusion merits a closer investigation. In fact, not only is the introduction removed, but it is also replaced by Saintsbury’s aforementioned article28, retaining his translation of the three passages. Nor does the substitution end there; rather, an exploration of the text itself reveals that the Marx-Aveling passages have also been removed and replaced by those which Saintsbury has translated and which now appear in the new introduction. No mention of this strategy is made in any of the paratextual material which accompanies the edition, and as such, this stealthy act of grafting one version onto another means that the Dent reprint has issued a translation which, in effect, is a hybrid. Once again, the straightforward movement from defective initial version to retranslation is distorted when held up to scrutiny.

  • 29 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)

15And so, what of the more clearly defined retranslations? Implicit in Berman’s conception of retranslation is the idea that each new version will surpass and displace that which has gone before; this evolution further resonates with the Bourdieusian phenomenon of the ‘lutte de définition’, whereby “[u]n des enjeux centraux des luttes littéraires (etc.) est le monopole de la légitimité littéraire”29. In other words, each new retranslation will challenge extant versions for the right to become the definitive, legitimate translation, eclipsing all others, and if we follow Berman’s history-as-progress model, the newer the retranslation, the better equipped it will be to reinforce its challenge.

  • 30 Ernest Newman, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, 58, 348, December 1895, p. 813.

16But the rush to take up this gauntlet of retranslation is not in evidence at the turn of the century: in 1895, Ernest Newan writes in the Fortnightly Review that “[i]f translation be any index to the English appreciation of a foreign author, it cannot be said that Flaubert’s following in this country is very large”30. Not only are retranslations slow in appearing, but the uptake on the very act of initial translation is also sluggish at best. It may well be that the fate of Vizetelly & Co. has left a lingering taste in the mouths of other publishers, and as a consequence, neither Madame Bovary nor other works by Flaubert, are not yet destined for mass, popular consumption.

17Such reticence may indeed explain both the delay in the appearance of the first retranslation and its form: published in the Lotus Library series of Greening & Co. in 1905 and “done into English” by Henry Blanchamp (almost two decades after the Marx-Aveling translation), this version is, like that of Saintsbury, partial. However, on this occasion, the guiding principle may have been one of brevity, if not of expurgation, particularly towards the end of the novel: gone is the obsequious portrayal of Homais in the company of Dr. Larivière, gone is the vigil held by Homais and M. Bournisien at Emma’s deathbed, and gone is the blind beggar, with chapter ten ending thus:

  • 31 Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. Henry Blanchamp, London, Greening & Co., 1905, p. 250.

Presently M. Bournisien was seen crossing the market place with the holy oil for Extreme Unction. The sacred function took place with all the usual ceremonies, and just as it was over, another convulsive fit seized Emma, and she fell back on the mattress, and when they went up to her, she had ceased to live31.

  • 32 Ibid., p. 263.
  • 33 Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, Émile Zola: Novelist and Reformer, London, John Lane, 1904, p. 249.

18Similarly, the novel is brought to an abrupt end with the words “[h]e fell to the ground; he was dead”32, with no post-mortem for Charles, no banishment of Berthe to the cotton mill and no croix d’honneur for Homais. Judging by the size of the work (8°) and its relatively low price tag of 1/6d, it is to be presumed that this particular Lotus Library series, which also issued translations of Maupassant, Musset and Zola, had a more popular audience in its sights. Whether the cuts made to the source text were done so out of a sense of catering for this new readership – whose attention spans were perhaps not so developed as those of the literary elite –, or out of a sense of cautious propriety is unclear. Nonetheless, in respect of this latter point, it is evident that, while religiously sensitive material may have been deliberately removed, all seduction scenes and a good part of the death scene remain intact. Writing in 1904 on his father’s publishing endeavours, Ernest Vizetelly alludes to the lack of demand for “works of high repute in France”, rather “it soon appeared that if French fiction was to be offered to English readers at all it must at least be sensational”33; lack of paratextual evidence means that the particular strategies of Greening & Co. can only be surmised, but this edition may wish to strike a balance between readability, titillation and decorum. As to its persistence, the Blanchamp translation is only reissued twice (1910; 1929) and hereafter falls into obscurity. Conversely, it is framed chronologically on both sides by re-editions of the Marx-Aveling translation; thus, this initial translation appears to have staved off any challenge presented by the newcomer and resists being superseded. Moreover, the abridgement affected in the Blanchamp retranslation leave it more akin to Berman’s description of a defective, partial first translation than that of the actual first full version.

  • 34 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)
  • 35 Holbrook Jackson, “Flaubert in English”, Bookman, 75, 447, 1928, p. 202.
  • 36 Ibid.

19With the subsequent new retranslation comes a new approach, not to mention a conspicuous attempt to break with the previous versions, or in the words of Bourdieu, “se faire un nom”34. In 1928, J. Lane, The Bodley Head issue a translation of Madame Bovary, carried out by J. Lewis May and presented in a luxurious, illustrated edition. Although ungenerously described by one reviewer as “one of those unfriendly monumental tomes which make a meretricious bid for popularity at Christmas time”35, the same nevertheless welcomes the translator’s efforts, claiming that “Mr. May has given us ‘Madame Bovary’ in a more becoming English dress than any of those who have hitherto attempted the ‘insurmountable’ task”36. Furthermore, the article proffers an interesting reflection on the state of Flaubert translations at that time:

  • 37 Ibid.

If we had treated France as badly as we have treated Flaubert, diplomatic relations might have been cut off. […] [A]lthough we have in English a complete Anatole France, a nearly complete Proust and the beginning of a complete Stendhal, we have no complete Flaubert. It is in fact far worse than that; we have scarcely any translations of any of his works which begin to give him adequate representation in our language; some of the attempts to translate him are beneath contempt, the remainder survive by lack of competent opposition37.

  • 38 J. Lewis May, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, London, J. Lane Bodley Head,1928, p. xvii-xix.

20Notably, it is within this category of ‘competent opposition’ that the May version actively seeks to inscribe itself, and no where is this tactic more evident than in the translator’s introduction to his work. Here, it is stated in no uncertain terms that “Flaubert, at least so far as Madame Bovary is concerned, has not been particularly well served by his translators”, who “have failed to recognise the nature and importance of the task before them” and despite May’s normative protestation that he “alas! could only dimly and imperfectly express”38, Flaubert’s style, the prevailing implication is that this version takes up the mantle, serves Flaubert well and, in so doing, ought to dispense with those flawed attempts that have come before. What then comes to light in this retranslation is the very earliest evidence of overt antagonism towards other extant versions within the literary field, namely a challenge as to their legitimacy.

  • 39 Frank Arthur Mumby, Publishing and Bookselling, 5th edition, London, J. Cape, 1974, p. 323.
  • 40 Ibid., p. 357.

21In spite of such lofty ambitions, the appearance of the May retranslation does not succeed in securing a dominant position for itself, nor does it mark a rupture in the established order of things: reprinted only once in 1931 by J.Lane Bodley Head, and then reissued three times (1950; 1953; c.1959) by relatively obscure publishing houses, this particular translation still pales in quantitative comparison against the deluge of reprints of the Marx-Aveling version. Indeed, over the period of the next two decades alone, the initial translation will appear at a rate of almost once ever two years (1928; 1930; 1932; 1934; 1936; 1941; 1946; 1949; 1952), alternating between the two main publishing companies of J. M. Dent and J. Cape until 1941, then adopted by the Camden Publishing Co. and Nonesuch Press for the remaining years. Of course, this prevalence is in large part circumstantial: spanning the dark decade of the thirties, World War II and its aftermath, this concentration of reprints certainly responded to the gloomy financial climate, as well as to the shortages, economic or otherwise, as imposed by the war: no copyright restrictions on the Marx-Aveling version means no need to commission a costly and a time-consuming new translation. In addition, both the Dent and Cape imprints catered for a well-defined market. As far as the former was concerned, the Everyman’s Library was targeted precisely at everyone so that “[t]he knowledge to be derived from the series would benefit not only men like J.M. Dent himself, who had little formal education, but anyone, of whatever standard of education, was willing to continue learning”39. Jonathan Cape, in turn, “wanted the reader to have the benefit of the cheapest possible prices”40, issuing pocket-sized editions in the Traveller’s Library Series. Thus, the guiding principles were those of accessibility and price, and the readership undoubtedly overlapped. Furthermore, the previous criticism of the Marx-Aveling version may even have stood in its favour; if accessibility was indeed a concern, then a translation of little or no renown in more highbrow circles would thereby have been less daunting and exerted a greater appeal to the mass reading public. In many regards, the initial translation becomes the only viable option.

22The following two new retranslations appear in quick succession: Hamish Hamilton issues a version by Gerard Hopkins in 1948, while Penguin launches its Alan Russell translation in 1950. Hopkins’s Madame Bovary is integrated into the Novel Library series which, according to the work’s dust jacket, boasts a policy of presenting, “at a price within the bounds of every reader’s purse, novels of excellence”. Its appearance under this particular guise is, however, fleeting. Nevertheless, the Hopkins translation is taken up by Oxford University Press in 1959: it is at this point that we can note the very beginnings an evident competition between the houses of Penguin and OUP as far as the publication of Madame Bovary is concerned, a competition, moreover, which is still ongoing and which has been successful in halting the re-edition of any other version (save that of Marx-Aveling on two occasions).

23To begin with, there are certainly no obvious paratextual signs of altercations between the Russell and Hopkins translations; the former takes the opportunity in his introduction to the context in which Madame Bovary was written, including an overview of the life, concerns, troubles and works of Flaubert: there is no allusion to any other translation attempts. Contrary to the Hamish Hamilton edition, Hopkins is given a voice in the OUP text; in his foreword, the tact is somewhat different, and although he briefly outlines a history of the source text, the bulk of his thoughts are centred on the translation problems specific to Flaubert (the ‘mot juste’; syntax; the use of the imperfect tense; sociolect). Nor does he make any reference to other versions. Yet these two strategies tacitly attest to the differing agendas of the two publishing houses. Little needs to be said about the paperback revolution set in motion by Penguin, whose philosophy was to issue books to the masses that were at once well-designed and affordable, while OUP set their sights on a more academic market, although not exclusively so. As such, the general introduction of the Penguin edition and the more specialized bent of the OUP foreword both speak to their respective audiences. However, it is significant that by now Madame Bovary has found her place in the literary canon, with the two publishers issuing the work in series dedicated to the Classics; therefore, some overlap in readership is to be expected. Judging by an advertisement in 1959 for Madame Bovary which states that “[t]hese good looking volumes are so cheap, yet they last a lifetime”, it appears that OUP are indeed encroaching on the Penguin market, also staking a claim for design and affordability, but setting themselves apart by emphasizing durability. This subtle posturing may also explain the lack of reference to other versions in each of the prefaces: rather than draw attention to potential alternatives, an implicit rejection of their existence may go some way to securing ones own survival.

  • 41 Pierre Bourdieu, Réponses, Paris, Seuil, 1992, p. 123.
  • 42 Gerard Hopkins, “Foreword”, Madame Bovary, OUP, 1959, p. viii.

24However, as the economic struggle for survival in the publishing worlds becomes fiercer, the vying for dominance becomes more overt. In 1981, OUP take the decision to reissue a revised version of Hopkins’s translation, replacing his foreword with an extensive introduction by the Oxford academic Terence Cave, and including a wealth of explanatory notes. Inherent in this move is a conscious attempt to appeal to a specifically academic market, along with evidence that the publishers hold with the ‘new equals improved’ ethos. In the first case, the new paratextual material can be regarded as an act of symbolic violence, whereby the aim is to create “la croyance dans la légitimité des mots et des personnes qui les prononcent”41. In opposition to the Hopkins foreword in which he claimed that “[t]ranslation is always a difficult art – a matter of inspired hit or miss. […] [T]he difficulties assume enormous and insurmountable proportions”42, no aspersions are cast as to the quality of the translation in the revised version; rather, the intellectual weight of the introduction bolsters its claim to legitimacy. Secondly, the publishers initiate a tactic of renewal which will be perpetuated in the years to follow, and which appears to be intuitively attune to Berman’s model of retranslation.

25Penguin responds to this revision by upping the ante, and in 1992 they replace their oft reprinted Russell version with an entirely new translation by Geoffrey Wall. This too is framed by a comprehensive introduction, albeit pitched at a more general level, and by a considerable number of notes. However, where it moves away from the OUP edition is in its engagement with and acknowledgement of earlier translations:

  • 43 Geoffrey Wall, “A Note on the Translation”, Madame Bovary, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1992.

Translating afresh the already translated classic, the translator is drawn into dialogue with his or her precursors. Though I was working on different principles, and though I have found that I eventually disagreed with some of their most cherished efforts, I have profited from the posthumous conversation of three previous translators of Madame Bovary: Eleanor Marx, Alan Russell and Gerard Hopkins43.

  • 44 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)
  • 45 Geoffrey Wall, “Retranslating Madame Bovary”, Palimpsestes, 15, 2004, p. 95.
  • 46 Ibid., p. 96.

26This reflection on the act of retranslation is telling in many ways: firstly “afresh” has connotations of progress, of betterment, and inscribes the version into Berman’s specific vision of retranslation; secondly, in this literary field where “exister, c’est différer”44, the self-positioning (based on differentiation and disagreement) in relation to his precursors is pertinent; thirdly, this is the only occasion on which there is explicit recognition of the fact that the translator has in fact drawn on the work of others, thereby emphasizing the arteries of influence which may be posited between extant versions. In his article, “Retranslating Madame Bovary”, Wall elaborates further on this conversation, explaining that “[w]henever I got stuck I would turn to them […] I discovered a happy plurality of voices available to me”45. However, such influence is only given limited reign, and as with the above note, a chord of dissention is struck: “for all their virtues, neither Hopkins nor Russell were to be trusted”, while Marx-Aveling’s translation “falls down at those moments where Flaubert has invested, imaginatively, in his subject-matter”46. Thus, the dominant concern is one of symbolic capital; divulging the restricted influence of other versions certainly disrupts the teleological sweep of Berman’s hypothesis on retranslation since interference from precursors suggests a backwards move, but it is ultimately in the spirit of contradistinction that the Wall translation reveals itself.

  • 47 Available online. [Accessed on 1st December 2009].
  • 48 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 4.
  • 49 George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of language and translation, 3rd edition, OUP, 1998, p. 396.

27Which finally brings us to the most recent version of Madame Bovary: mirroring Penguin’s move, OUP produce a brand new version by translator Margaret Mauldon in 2004. According to the publisher’s online catalogue, “[t]he new translation by award-winning translator Margaret Mauldon replaces the slightly old-fashioned one by Gerard Hopkins”, while “[r]espected critic and writer Malcolm Bowie has written a wide-ranging and original new introduction to the novel”47. Once more, the symbolic capital to be gleaned from the prestige of the translator, and from that of paratextual authors, is brought to the fore. However, the allusion to the “old-fashioned” Hopkins version also points to another key consideration in the study of retranslations: the ageing of the ST. In this instance, OUP are acting on the presumption that the outdated language of the work which first appeared in 1950 necessitates a new version for modern times. As such, their actions apparently confirm the universal feature put forward by Berman that “alors que les originaux restent éternellement jeunes […], les traductions, elles, ‘vieillissent’”48, but is nevertheless debatable as to what extent this ageing of language should be interpreted as a deficiency, especially with regard to the translation of nineteenth century works. This is especially significant in light of the initial translation, where the traces of its temporal origins mark it with a certain authenticity; as Steiner comments on the Marx-Aveling work, “[r]ead now, what is frequently an imperceptible version is steadied by its period flavour”49, thus, despite its shortcomings, it is this characteristic of agedness which may have contributed to the continuation of this initial translation. However, a certain degree of collusion in the perpetuation of the idea that translations need to be updated or renewed can be surmised in light of the activities of both OUP and Penguin. With the introduction of each fresh challenge comes the opportunity to occupy a position of greater prestige or authority; by defining the terms of the game, these publishers ensure the potential for future moments of rupture, and with it, the chance to dominate.

  • 50 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 5.
  • 51 See Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A history of translation, London, Routledge, 19 (...)

28In addition, the prevalence of OUP and Penguin over the last fifty years seems to have halted the appearance of retranslations in other imprints. Whether this is indicative of the fact that these two houses have produced versions of what Berman terms a “grande traduction”, namely one which “pour un temps, suspend la succession des retraductions”50, remains to be seen. An alternative explanation to this suspension is the grandeur accorded to these works, not as a result of any inherent linguistic excellence, but as a consequence of the symbolic capital which the publishers have in abundance. It is worth remarking that, around the same time as OUP and Penguin come to saturate the market, there is also a significant decline – if not an outright halt – in translation reviews. This phenomenon undoubtedly ties in with Venuti’s assertion of the ‘invisibility of the translator’51, but it also points to the tendency to willingly confer authority onto these publishing institutions, issuers and guardians of the literary canon; their legitimacy is such, there is no perceived need to question their retranslations (or as Venuti might see it, no interest in questioning). In turn, this leaves the way open for these leading publishers to specify themselves when the time is right to retranslate; viewed in this light, retranslation is far removed from concerns over textual deficiency, instead it plays a fundamental role in the power struggles of the literary system.

A world of possibilities

  • 52 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. (...)

29Whereas the above survey takes into account the history of individual (re)translations, it is also crucial to note that, far from effacing one another, the texts co-exist within the same parameters of the literary system. They form a certain collective, presided over by the immutable title of Madame Bovary. However, since the system in which they reside evolves through rupture and diversity, there is a risk that works will suffer from what Bourdieu terms “l’usure de l’effet”52, from a stagnation which will confine them to a much less prestigious position. It is precisely in this context that retranslation can be attributed a further role: one of rejuvenation, not in terms of updating language, but of reinforcing the heterogeneity which characterizes this multiplicity of texts. So, rather than restricting retranslations to the task of displacing those which have gone before, they may also function together in order to ensure the survival of the source text itself.

  • 53 Alan Hodge, “Note”, Madame Bovary, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1950, p. vii.

30Likewise, the multifarious representations of the work highlight the richness embodied in the source text itself. As Alan Hodge, editor of the Hamish Hamilton edition, remarks, “Madame Bovary is a book which can be read many times: as with a medieval tapestry, each glance reveals some illuminating collocation of scene and story not seen before”53. Therefore, the sheer scale of potential alone can be regarded as a catalyst for retranslation; each new translation casts the world of the original in a different light, and it is this inconsistency in perspective that allows the versions to exist side by side. Individually, we are presented with a glimpse into the complex universe of Flaubert’s masterpiece; collectively, that vista expands and grows more intricate.

  • 54 Pierre-Marc de Biasi, “What is a Literary Draft ? Toward a Functional Typology of Genetic Documenta (...)

31On a final point, it should be recognized that this vital rethinking of retranslation can be aided by logic evidenced in the field of genetic criticism. According to Pierre-Marc de Biasi, “the rough draft allows us to be present at the birth of the motivations, strategies and metamorphoses of writing”54. What we have here is a line of enquiry that concentrates on the transformations and mutations which precede the fixed text; if we then mirror this logic, taking the source text as the invariable point of departure, retranslations can be compared to rough drafts since they too are a series of re-workings and metamorphoses wherein various motivations and strategies can be pinpointed, and are also unfixed in the sense that the opportunity for new versions or interpretations never ceases.

  • 55 Daniel Ferrer, “Le matériel et le virtuel : du paradigme indiciaire à la logique de mondes possible (...)

32The fluid mutability of the rough draft then allows for a comparable viewpoint on to the unfolding process of creation, rather than on the end result; this outlook can certainly be extended to a given corpus of retranslations, with each text representing a different and comparative stage in a translational process of creation. Daniel Ferrer states that “la matérialité textuelle de l’œuvre est évidemment altérée ou bouleversée par le moindre ajout à l’univers représenté. C’est pourquoi il faut sans doute considérer que les différentes versions, même très proches, renvoient toujours à des mondes différents”55; it is this notion of “different worlds”, also expressed as different modalities or degrees of existence or possible worlds, which can help inform our framing of retranslations. Rather than entities which chronologically restore the linguistic or the cultural specificity of the original, they are individual and different worlds, albeit rotating around the same axis, but worlds which nevertheless have wavering depictions of the meanings, the style, the structure of the source text, and which often bear the mark of the conditions in which they were born. By diverting attention away from the twin poles of source text and target, and towards a more encompassing examination of the retranslations as a corpus in their own right, genetic criticism can provide a model that is richer and less rigid that the teleological and strictly textual inferences proposed by Berman.

33In sum, this survey of the British retranslations of Madame Bovary has demonstrated that the tangle of socio-cultural and economic variables which exist within the literary field has exerted a definite pressure on the moments of (re)translative production for the work, as well as on the material form in which the versions appear, and on the institutions which issue the texts. From the moment the work leaves its source context, it becomes subject to and shaped by the currents and trends which prevail in the receiving system. Subsequently, it is clear that any discussion of the phenomenon of retranslation cannot be restricted to the binary division between defective initial translation and accomplished current retranslation; the teleological trajectory moves off-course when grafted into the dynamics of the British literary system. In view of partial and supplanted translations, the very definition of a starting point becomes problematic. Also, the assumed forward progression loses momentum once we take into account certain reversals, namely acts of abridgement and the use of preceding versions as models. Furthermore, the ‘new and improved’ ethos must be regarded with some degree of suspicion when it becomes implicated into the power struggles of the field and is championed by those in positions of dominance. Finally, it is fundamental that retranslations be examined both on an individual and a collective basis; by drawing on the genetic concept of ‘worlds of possibilities’, we can clarify how this multiplicity of texts serve as a means of revitalizing the canonical source text, whilst affording a maximum degree of exposure to the rich diversity of Madame Bovary.

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Notes

1 See Appendix.

2 Gustave Flaubert, letter to Ernest Duplan, 12 juin 1862, Correspondance, tome III, Paris, Gallimard, « Bibliothèque de la Pléiade », 1991, p. 222.

3 Ibid.

4 This bibliographical survey will limit itself to those versions which were produced by a British translator and issued by a British publisher. It will not take into account translations which were imported from the U.S.

5 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 5.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 5.

9 Op. cit., p. 7.

10 Terry Hale, “Readers and Publishers of Translations in Britain”, The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 4, 2006, p. 36.

11 “Les Misérables”, The Quarterly Review, 112, 224, October 1862, p. 272-273.

12 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 5.

13 Ibid., p. 33.

14 George Saintsbury, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, April 1878, 23, 136, p. 577.

15 N. H. Kennard, “Gustave Flaubert and George Sand”, Nineteenth Century: a monthly review, 20, 117, November 1886, p. 693.

16 Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, Émile Zola: Novelist and Reformer, John Lane, London, 1904, p. 257.

17 Ibid., p. 286.

18 Much research has been undertaken into Eleanor Marx-Aveling’s translation of Madame Bovary. For a discussion on the translator’s Marxist reading of the novel, and an examination of the parallels between Eleanor and Emma, see Emily Apter’s “Taskography: Translation as Genre of Literary Labour”, PMLA, 2007, 122, 5, p. 1403-1415, as well as Denise Merkle’s “Intertextuality in Eleanor Marx-Aveling’s A doll’s house and Madame Bovary”, Babel, 2004, 50, 2, p. 97-113.

19 “Novels of the Week”, The Athenaeum, 3075, October 1886, p. 429 f.

20 Eleanor Marx-Aveling, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, Vizetelly & Co., London, 1886, p. xxii.

21 This phenomenon is not unique to Britain. Emily Apter also notes “the curious survival of this early translation despite a long history of criticism” in the US where it appeared several times in revised form. See Emily Apter, “Biography of a translation: Madame Bovary between Eleanor Marx and Paul de Man”, Translation Studies, 1,1, 2008, p. 73-89.

22 Peter France, “French”, The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 4, 2006, p. 241.

23 Eleanor Marx-Aveling, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, Vizetelly & Co., London, 1886, p. vii.

24 George Saintsbury, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, 23, 136, April 1878, p. 580 f.

25 Peter France & Kenneth Hayes, “The Publication of Literary Translation: An Overview”, The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 4, 2006, p. 143.

26 Take for example Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Doctor’s Wife, 1864.

27 Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx, volume 2: The Crowded Years, 1884-1898. London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1976, p. 99.

28 This article was published again in 1891 in George Saintsbury’s Essays on French Novelists, London, Percival.

29 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 14.

30 Ernest Newman, “Gustave Flaubert”, Fortnightly Review, 58, 348, December 1895, p. 813.

31 Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. Henry Blanchamp, London, Greening & Co., 1905, p. 250.

32 Ibid., p. 263.

33 Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, Émile Zola: Novelist and Reformer, London, John Lane, 1904, p. 249.

34 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 24.

35 Holbrook Jackson, “Flaubert in English”, Bookman, 75, 447, 1928, p. 202.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid.

38 J. Lewis May, “Introduction”, Madame Bovary, London, J. Lane Bodley Head,1928, p. xvii-xix.

39 Frank Arthur Mumby, Publishing and Bookselling, 5th edition, London, J. Cape, 1974, p. 323.

40 Ibid., p. 357.

41 Pierre Bourdieu, Réponses, Paris, Seuil, 1992, p. 123.

42 Gerard Hopkins, “Foreword”, Madame Bovary, OUP, 1959, p. viii.

43 Geoffrey Wall, “A Note on the Translation”, Madame Bovary, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1992.

44 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 24.

45 Geoffrey Wall, “Retranslating Madame Bovary”, Palimpsestes, 15, 2004, p. 95.

46 Ibid., p. 96.

47 Available online. [Accessed on 1st December 2009].

48 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 4.

49 George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of language and translation, 3rd edition, OUP, 1998, p. 396.

50 Antoine Berman, “La retraduction comme espace de la traduction”, Palimpsestes, XIII, 4, 1990, p. 5.

51 See Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A history of translation, London, Routledge, 1995.

52 Pierre Bourdieu, “Le champ littéraire”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 89, 1, 1991, p. 34.

53 Alan Hodge, “Note”, Madame Bovary, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1950, p. vii.

54 Pierre-Marc de Biasi, “What is a Literary Draft ? Toward a Functional Typology of Genetic Documentation”, Yale French Studies, 89, 1996, p. 29.

55 Daniel Ferrer, “Le matériel et le virtuel : du paradigme indiciaire à la logique de mondes possibles”, Available online. [Accessed 1st December 2009].

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Sharon Deane, « Flaubert and the retranslation of Madame Bovary », Flaubert [En ligne], 6 | 2011, mis en ligne le 30 janvier 2012, consulté le 22 septembre 2017. URL : http://flaubert.revues.org/1538

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Sharon Deane

University of Edinburgh

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