Venue: Board Room of the Stanford Humanities Center.
Speaker: Isabelle Bour, Professor of British Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and the Bliss Carnochan Visiting Scholar in residence this month at the Humanities Center.
Description: In my talk, 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 translatorssaid 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.