Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Methods of Medieval Translators: A Comparison of the Latin Text of Virgil's 'Aeneid' with Its Old French Adaptations

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Methods of Medieval Translators: A Comparison of the Latin Text of Virgil's 'Aeneid' with Its Old French Adaptations

Article excerpt

Raymond J. Cormier, The Methods of Medieval Translators: A Comparison of the Latin Text of Virgil's 'Aeneid' with its Old French Adaptations (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2011). vii + 385 pp. ISBN 978-0-7734-1577-5. $49-95/ £39-95In

this volume Raymond Cormier first examines 'cognitive schemata' in the context of second-language acquisition, covering both linguistic theory and pedagogical practice, and then offers an extensive review of translation theory and practice, focused to a large extent on the Middle Ages but by no means limited to that period. These introductory chapters pave the way for a discussion of the phenomenon of anachronism in medieval translations and adaptations of prior texts, reviewing both the earlier generations of critics who have deplored this practice or seen it as indicative of medieval simplicity and short-sightedness, and the more recent work that has exploited anachronistic touches as sources of insight into the mentality of the translator or his intended audience, or celebrated them as instances of innovation and creative ingenuity. The attention given to the summary of previous and current critical views could be very useful for the undergraduate or otherwise uninitiated reader; at times, however, it does also result in a blurring of the argument, as the thread periodically disappears from view beneath the welter of detail and digression. Still, Cormier does set up a persuasive set of analogies linking language acquisition, linguistic and cultural translation, and the adaptation of texts or legends to new languages, aesthetic forms, and ideological purposes. An additional chapter on textual criticism - again featuring a detailed survey of editorial theory and practice leading back to Lachmann - presumably means to set up an analogy between literary adaptation and linguistic translation, and the ways in which the resulting texts were altered by both medieval scribes and modern editors. While this is a perfectly plausible idea, it does not really emerge clearly from Cormier's treatment. Having established his theoretical and critical framework, in any case, Cormier proceeds to examine particular passages in the Eneas - and occasionally, for comparison, in other romans antiques or even in modern literary or filmic adaptations - to consider what can be learned from the places where the medieval text diverges from the Latin original. …

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