|General programme, activity sheet|
||Monday 27 June, 2016 11:00 to 11:20
Translating English « Public Spirit » into French Political Thought: 1814 -1848.Speaker: Gabriel Moyal, McMaster University
Authors: Gabriel Louis Moyal
Translating English « Public Spirit » into French Political Thought: 1814 -1848.
This proposal is drawn from an on-going study of the role of translation, from English, in the shaping of French political thought in a period covering the first Restoration of the Bourbons dynasty (1814) to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848.
Politically, this period is characterized by the effects of a more or less imposed constitutional monarchy, a form of government France had not had any substantial or consistent experience with until 1814. The only European model available to French politicians was England, the same nation that had been at war with France for the better part of the previous twenty years and who had orchestrated the fall of Napoleon’s empire.
In France, opinion was deeply divided –even within its dominant ideological factions. Ultra-royalists and legitimists pressed for an abolition of the constitution and for a swift return to absolute rule. At the same time, liberals ostensibly sought to preserve the civil liberties obtained at the outset of the 1789 Revolution –even as some among them were gradually redefining those liberties to make France more pliant to the interests of free enterprise, more amenable to the rule of free markets. Frequent confrontations of these extremes made for an unstable, turbulent political and social climate.
Nonetheless, most factions could look to England’s relative political calm and its ensuing prosperity with envy. Those committed to constitutionality realized that real political change implied something more than endless drafting of charters or grafting of bureaucratic institutions. What was needed, they concluded, was a new political mentality. And, as more and more French travellers reported on the pervasive unifying presence of the English “public spirit”, it became clear that preserving France’s stature in Europe required fundamental changes in the collective political self-image and hence massive changes in the culture as a whole.
Translation became the evident and essential instrument for these changes. In the first half of 19th century translation from English to French attained industrial proportions as knowledge of England became a useful field of expertise. French political dailies reported in detail on the debates at Westminster, journals and reviews carrying translations of articles selected from the thriving British periodical press became fashionable and popular; travelogues of visits to Great Britain nearly became a separate literary genre.
Using sample translations gleaned mainly from the popular press and various travelogues of the period, this paper will examine some strategic applications of translation in this historical context and attempt to outline their social and political effects.
Keywords: French political history, Constitutional history, cultural translation, public spirit.
[This paper will be presented in English with some quotations in French.]Further information:
Gabriel Moyal is an Associate Professor of French at McMaster University (Canada).
This paper is part of a research project on the history of translation in France, in the period 1814 to 1848.
This project has resulted in a number of publications in various volumes and journals in Translation, including TTR and META, over the past several years.
Place: Room 4