Wonders in Translation : English translations of Latin wonder books, 1577–1581

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Title: Wonders in Translation : English translations of Latin wonder books, 1577–1581
Author: Geritz, Anita
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202106163014
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Historian maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in History
Magisterprogrammet i historia
Specialisation: Suomenkielinen opintosuunta
Study track in Finnish
Finskspråkig studieinriktning
Abstract: Wonders or prodigies – unusual events such as strange births, apparitions, comets, and natural disasters, often understood as divine signs and warnings – were the subject of intense fascination and religious and political commentary in late 15th and 16th-century Europe. Works describing, collecting, and interpreting wonders circulated widely in different editions and translations. In the present study, I examine the works of two Elizabethan translators: Abraham Fleming, who translated two Latin treatises on comets and earthquakes by the Catholic bishop Friedrich Nausea in 1577 and 1580, and Stephan Batman, who published a translation and continuation of the Reformed Conrad Lycosthenes’s lengthy chronicle of prodigies in 1581. These influential Latin wonder books and their translations provide a varied look into 16th-century writings on wonders, which crossed linguistic and confessional borders alike and were linked to various discussions, from Reformation polemics to scientific and theological considerations about the natural and supernatural causes of unusual phenomena in nature. As translators, Fleming and Batman not only made their sources available in English but also made them their own by making various alterations, omissions, and additions to the texts. Previous studies of wonder literature have tended to either underappreciate this active role of early modern translators or be imprecise in identifying the nature and extent of the changes made by them. By analysing and comparing the translations by Fleming and Batman to their source texts, it is possible to gain a more accurate and detailed understanding of how and for what purposes they appropriated and transformed the works they translated. Fleming and Batman were able to both develop themes originally present in their sources and introduce new material and aims for the works. Fleming translated Nausea’s treatises to comment on two contemporary wonders and, wanting to emphasise their supernatural nature, first subtly altered and later directly criticised Nausea’s discussions of natural causes while praising his supernatural interpretations and translating additional writings by Nausea that focused further on apocalyptic themes. Meanwhile, Batman was able to tailor Lycosthenes’s wonder chronicle to a specifically English Protestant audience by supplementing it with anti-Catholic material and entries on English history. By developing Lycosthenes’s themes of divine judgement and having this augmented chronicle build up to the reign of Elizabeth I, Batman utilized it as a foundation for his Elizabethan continuation of the work, in which he called for stricter measures against religious nonconformism in England.
Subject: wonders
Early Modern Era
Elizabethan England
Subject (yso): enteet
latinankielinen kirjallisuus
englanninkielinen kirjallisuus
översättning (verksamhet)
latinsk litteratur
engelsk litteratur

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