Academic journal article Philological Quarterly

Four Contemporary Translations of Dorothy Arundell's Lost English Narratives

Academic journal article Philological Quarterly

Four Contemporary Translations of Dorothy Arundell's Lost English Narratives

Article excerpt

On 6 September 1594, an anonymous letter describing the execution two months earlier of John Cornelius, SJ, a long time associate of the Arundell family of Lanherne, Cornwall, was sent out of England and eventually archived by Jesuits as, variously, "a letter from London" or "a letter from England"; it was also printed under a slightly different title in Spanish translation in 1599. Four years later, a much more detailed account of the life and death of Cornelius was written by Dorothy Arundell, daughter of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, who sent it to Jesuits from her convent in Brussels; variously titled by later historians, the title of this later narrative is regularized here as The Life of Father John Cornelius, SJ. The trajectories of these two communications, both the "Letter from London" and the Life, align with the outward movement of oppressed Catholics in England towards the continent during this period and with their subsequent efforts to establish new centers of textual production and circulation. In practical terms as well, these two English narratives served the new communities by providing news from England and by documenting instances of martyrdom. The "Letter from England" has remained unattributed, and the Life has never appeared in print as a discrete narrative. Both English narratives remained in manuscript and are now considered lost, surviving only in the four contemporary translations that form the subject of this essay.

Because of the lost first-language texts, however, the important task of assessing these translations fits imprecisely into traditional translation studies. Most studies analyzing the character and value of changes made in the translation process rely on a close, contextualized comparison of a translation dyad, an L1/L2 (first-language/second-language) pair. As in the present instance, however, there are also cases outside that model, such as those involving an LI lacuna or missing first-language text, which pose additional problems or invite new questions. (1) For this study of the surviving translations of Dorothy Arundell's lost work, the lack of an extant LI witness has provoked a concerted effort to identify and corroborate contemporary evidence of her authorship, providing in the process an opportunity to situate the work more securely in relation to its historical context and to clarify aspects of the source culture as well as the receiving culture. (2) The lacuna itself, in other words, invites an alternative set of inquiries well outside the traditional contrastive analysis of a translation dyad.

Unlike studies that must hypothesize the prior existence of an authorial text based on later witnesses, in this case we can be certain that a first-language version existed at the end of the sixteenth-century because Dorothy Arundell is cited as a primary source by a succession of Jesuit historians writing on her subject, John Cornelius. Her authorship is either attributed or remains reliable in the works of Philippe Alegambe, SJ (1657); Henry More, SJ (1660); Danielo Bartoli, SJ (1667); Bishop Richard Challoner (1741); Henry Foley, Jesuit Brother (1878), and Leo Hicks, SJ (1929), among others. In various ways these historians point to two English sources in manuscript: one is the anonymous letter sent out of London within months of the execution of Cornelius on 3/4 July 1594, (3) and the other is the account written by Dorothy Arundell after entering the Benedictine Abbey of the Glorious Assumption of Our Blessed Lady in Brussels, as a founding member, in 1598. (4) Because authorship of the "Letter from London" has remained undetermined, an assessment of these translations is also important in establishing a connection between the two narratives.

The first-language versions of these two narratives may have been lost as early as the middle of the seventeenth century; in Spanish, Latin, and Italian translations, the two narratives became silently merged in transmission, primarily in the martyrological collections of Jesuit historians. …

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