Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

The Works of Lucy Hutchinson: Volume 1: Translation of Lucretius

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

The Works of Lucy Hutchinson: Volume 1: Translation of Lucretius

Article excerpt

Lucy Hutchinson, The Works of Lucy Hutchinson: Volume 1: Translation of Lucretius, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook, with Maria Cristina Zerbino, 2 parts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. cxlvi + 797, hb. £200.00, ISBN: 978-0-19-924736-3

This is the first instalment of a four-volume edition of the works of Lucy Hutchinson under the general editorship of David Norbrook, who has done more than anyone else to establish Hutchinson as a significant figure in seventeenth-century culture. Subsequent volumes will be devoted to her miscellaneous prose; the life of her husband John Hutchinson; and her poems, including Order and Disorder which Professor Norbrook published (largely from manuscript) in 2001.

The present volume (issued as a two-part set) begins with a book-length introduction, largely by David Norbrook, which presents the reader with a detailed account of Hutchinson's life and circumstances, and the culture within which she wrote her translation. The enterprise is eruditely located within the history of the reception and translation of De Rerum Natura in the early-modern period, and there is a close analysis of her engagement with both the poetry and the philosophy of Lucretius. The introduction concludes with a careful account of the manuscript of the translation, which is largely scribal, though with some material (the text of Book VI, prefatory arguments to the individual books, and occasional corrections) in Hutchinson's own hand. The poem itself is printed in two different typefaces to distinguish authorial from scribal hands.

The text of the translation is placed opposite the Latin text, which has been established by Maria Cristina Zerbino from the edition which Hutchinson probably used. The second part of this Oxford edition presents a three-hundred page commentary, conveniently printed as a separate volume so that Latin text, English translation, and annotation can be viewed simultaneously. The fascinating commentary, which is principally the work of Reid Barbour, presents a detailed but not pedantic analysis of the relationship between the Latin original and Hutchinson's version, consistently alert to interesting linguistic and conceptual nuances in both Latin and English, and this will prove an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the poetic and philosophical vocabulary of the period, particularly since there is also an index to both the Latin and the English words which receive annotation. …

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