In her study of Charlotte Brontë, Harriet Martineau and George Eliot, Lesa Scholl shows how three Victorian women writers broadened their capacity for literary professionalism by participating in translation and other conventionally derivative activities such as editing and reviewing early in their careers. In the nineteenth century, a move away from translating Greek and Latin Classical texts in favour of radical French and German philosophical works took place. As England colonised the globe, Continental philosophies penetrated English shores, causing fissures of faith, understanding and cultural stability. The influence of these new texts in England was unprecedented, and Eliot, Brontë and Martineau were instrumental in both literally and figuratively translating these ideas for their English audience. Each was transformed by access to foreign languages and cultures, first through the written word and then by travel to foreign locales, and the effects of this exposure manifest in their journalism, travel writing and fiction. Ultimately, Scholl argues, their study of foreign languages and their translation of foreign-language texts, nations and cultures enabled them to transgress the physical and ideological boundaries imposed by English middle-class conventions.
Reviews: 'Scholl’s is a thoughtful and skillfully researched discussion that includes a rich and impressive bibliography. Her study encourages reading and rereading the novels of Brontë, Martineau, and Eliot, as well as reading beyond them, embracing the oft-overlooked translational works of these writers. Translation, Authorship and the Victorian Professional Woman is not just a companion to colonial and postcolonial, gender, and/or nineteenth-century literary studies, but a distinctive, original, and finely crafted work of scholarship in its own right.'
'… much interesting detail and a number of perceptive comments about both nineteenth-century women and nineteenth-century authorship… it will no doubt find a place on both Women’s Studies and Translation Studies library shelves.'
Translation and Literature
'Translation, Authorship and the Victorian Professional Woman deepens our understanding of Bronte’s Eliot’s, and Martineau’s roles as influential literary professionals and agents of cultural (ex)change, and its synthesizing critical approach lays paths of further inquiry within and beyond the field of women’s writing of the Victorian period. Scholl’s book will accordingly be of particular interest to scholars and students of nineteenth-century British women writers and gender, the professionalization of writing in Britain between 1830 and 1880, translation studies, and postcolonial theory.'
Papers of the Bibliographic Society of Canada
'… Scholl’s work is a valuable addition to the sum of knowledge on female authorship and how it reflected - and indeed impacted - the place of women in nineteenth-century British society. It is particularly fruitful in placing this relatively familiar ground within the context of what has been called the “translation turn” in cultural studies, reflecting growing recognition of the fact that the modern nation-state is not necessarily the optimum unit of research when it comes to studying cultural trends. In this sense, Scholl’s work, which underlines the significance of imported French and German philosophy in causing “fissures of faith, understanding, and cultural stability” in nineteenth-century Britain, is a timely reminder to book historians of the importance of our own “transnational turn”.'
'Translation, Authorship and the Victorian Professional Woman elegantly traces the pivotal role played by Brontë, Martineau, and Eliot in introducing provocative foreign ideas to a Victorian audience and urging a reconsideration of domestic values.'
Notes and Queries
'One of the most valuable aspects of Scholl’s study is how it details the opportunities made available to women, by the ordinary business of print, to authorise their own voice in nineteenth-century public culture… this book offers an engaging discussion of how issues of translation contributed to the development of the female professional in the nineteenth century.'
Literature and History
'It is wonderful to read this scholar’s adumbrations of how the experiences of travel and translation, linked as forms of cultural negotiation, contribute to the formation of authorial selves… [An] intelligent and illuminating volume.'
'The clear structure as well as detailed and nuanced argumentation of the book make it as accessible as it is enriching. Guiding the reader through selected aspects of the three writers' lives and works, it establishes enlightening connections between them without overlooking their idiosyncracies.'
Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens