Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period

Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period

Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period

Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period


The relationship between travel and translation might seem obvious at first, but to study it in earnest is to discover that it is at once intriguing and elusive. Of course, travelers translate in order to make sense of their new surroundings; sometimes they must translate in order to put food on the table. The relationship between these two human compulsions, however, goes much deeper than this. What gets translated, it seems, is not merely the written or the spoken word, but the very identity of the traveler. These seventeen essays-which treat not only such well-known figures as Martin Luther, Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Milton, but also such lesser known figures as Konrad Grunemberg, Leo Africanus, and Garcilaso de la Vega-constitute the first survey of how this relationship manifests itself in the early modern period."


Carmine G. Di Biase

This collection of essays explores the various relationships between travel and translation during
the early modern period, when both activities flourished. the many facets of this relationship are
at times obvious, at other times elusive; its manifestations can be seen in the works of Martin
Luther and Erasmus, of Petrarch and Shakespeare, and of lesser known writers such as Leo
Africanus and Garcilaso de la Vega, who are among the subjects of these essays. It seems to me,
however, and perhaps James Joyce would have agreed, that all of these writers have at least one
thing in common: they were exiles. Such too were the early makers of bilingual dictionaries, who
found themselves between worlds. in the lives and works of these lexicographers, in particular
Michelangelo Florio and his illustrious son John, one can see that the act of translation is
essentially like that of travel: both involve a certain moment of failure, and that moment, in both
cases, leads directly to the creation of something new. in short, linguistic translation and its strange
results may serve as an observable, illustrative instance of how travel generates culture.

Keywords: bilingual lexicographers, exile, Florio, identity, translation, travel.

What exactly is the relationship between travel and translation? Some answers suggest themselves readily. the traveler must translate in order to make sense of foreign places and foreign people. On the other hand, a knowledge of languages other than one’s own might make one want to travel in order to put those languages to use in their native settings. and if what is meant by translation is the relocation of a message from one language to another, then is not all travel–the relocation of a person from one place to another–also a kind of translation? When such obvious answers left a group of scholars unsatisfied, they decided to look deeper into the matter. To study the relationship between these two human compulsions, however, is to enter into territory that is only now beginning to be charted. Michael Cronin has studied this relationship as it pertains to the work of modern and contemporary writers; a few other scholars, such as Loredana Polezzi and Mirella Agorni, have carried out more specialized studies. But the early modern period, during which both travel and translation enjoyed a spectacular flourishing, has not, until the appearance of this book, attracted an extended study. the goal of this book, then, is to examine how this relationship manifests itself in the works of early modern writers and thereby to continue closing the gap between the study of translation and the study of travel, or hodoeporics, the term coined recently by the late Luigi Monga (1996: 5), to whom this book is dedicated. True to the spirit of the form, the essays contained herein are investigations, experiments in inductive reasoning. They do not pretend to be conclusive, only to begin a dialogue that one hopes will continue for years to come. Nor do they pretend to be comprehensive in their coverage; the emphasis, with several exceptions, is on . . .

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