Publication details [#7661]

Bongie, Chris. 2005. Victor Hugo and 'The Cause of Humanity': translating Bug-Jargal (1826) into The Slave-King. The Translator 11 (1) : 1–24.
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Article in jnl/bk
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Person as a subject
Title as subject


Victor Hugo's second novel, Bug-Jargal (1826), is one of the most important works of nineteenth-century colonial fiction, and quite possibly the most sustained novelistic treatment of the Haitian Revolution by a major European author. Between 1833 and 1866 Hugo's novel was translated into English no less than four times. This article provides a comparative analysis of Bug-Jargal and the first of its English translations, The Slave-King (1833), which, unlike all subsequent translations, departs radically at points from its French model, demanding to be read not simply as a translation but as an adaptation of what Hugo wrote. Examining the ways in which the 1833 translation conscripts the in-many-ways politically reactionary 1826 original to the liberal cause, this article reflects on the extent to which our own postcolonial sensibility remains implicated in the seemingly very different ('reactionary', 'liberal') colonial visions put forward in Bug-Jargal and its English double, The Slave-King.
Source : Based on abstract in journal