Translating for a Good Cause
Joseph Lavallée’s antislavery novel Le Nègre comme il y a peu de Blancs (1789) and its two English translations (1790)
In Joseph Lavallée’s Le Nègre comme il y a peu de Blancs (1789) novelistic means are openly used to serve the abolitionist cause. The author announces in the preface that his aim is to “make his readers love Black people”. The novel was quite well received in France and it was translated into English twice the following year, first by Joseph Trapp and then by an anonymous translator. My article is based on a comparative analysis of some key passages containing abolitionist discourse in the source text and in the two target texts. I argue that the second English translator systematically made the novel more suitable for the abolitionist cause, by omitting or by modifying contradictory material found in the source text. Interestingly, it was this manipulated version of Lavallée’s novel that became popular among English-speaking readers.
Keywords: slavery, abolitionism, antislavery, manipulation, Lavallée, Trapp, negro, Oroonoko, Itanoko
Keywords: esclavage, abolitionnisme, antiesclavagiste, manipulation, Lavallée, Trapp, nègre, Oronoko, Itanoko
Published online: 16 December 2009
Trapp, J. A.M.
1790 The Negro as there are Few White Men. Translated from the French. London: Printed for the author, and sold by Messrs. White and Son, Fleet Street; Elliot and Kay, opposite Sommerset House; Richardson, Royal Exchange; Parsons, Pater-noster Row; Steel, Towerhill; Flexney, Deighton, Holborn; Cattermoul, Oxford Street; Ridgeway, York Street, St. James’s Square; Brown, Otridge, Strahan, M’Queen, Strand; Fowler, Piazza, Covent Garden; Murray, Princes Street; Parsley, Surry Road; and J. Barker, Russell Court, Drury Lane.
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CR = The Critical Review, or Annals of Literature 69 & 70
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ER = The English Review; or, an abstract of English Foreign literature
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Cited by 1 other publications
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