What happened to God and the angels: An exercise in translational stylistics
Centre for Research in Translation, Middlesex University
The paper which follows uses a set of translations by Henry William Dulcken of stories written by Hans Christian Andersen and published in Danish between 1835 and 1866 as the object of an exercise in translational stylistic analysis. Section 1 presents the author, Section 2 discusses translational stylistics, Section 3 sets the scene for the stylistic study by outlining the impact of fairytale translations on the literary polysystem in Britain in the 19th Century and the reception in Victorian Britain of Andersen’s stories, and by introducing the translator and comparing his translations briefly with other early translations. Section 4 is devoted to the stylistic study, while Section 5 suggests that translational stylistics can be an important component in comparative cultural studies.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) was a Danish writer of prose, poetry and drama, whose authorship extended far beyond the stories for which he is now best known both in Denmark and elsewhere. His fame in Britain originates with Mary Howitt’s translations (from German versions) of his three novels, The improvisatore, or, Life in Italy, and Only an fiddler; and O.T., or, Life in Denmark. By the author of the Improvisatore, or, Life in Italy, all published in 1845. The popularity of these provided a linchpin for Howitt’s selection of translations of the stories, published in 1846: Wonderful stories for children. By Hans Christian Anderson [sic], Author of ‘The improvisatore’ etc. Since this introduction [ p. 38 ]of the stories into English, new translations have appeared regularly, providing a rich resource for investigations of re-translation, comparisons of different translators’ treatment of the same source across time, or contemporaneously, or both, and for much besides. In this paper, I should like to use one particular set of translations of Andersen’s stories into English to carry out an exercise in what I once, loosely, referred to as translational stylistics (Malmkjær 1994). I would like, first, to tighten up my definition of that activity.
Sources for Andersen’s original stories
H. C. Andersens Eventyr: Kritisk udgivet efter de originale Eventyrhæfter med Varianter ved Erik Dal og Kommentar ved Erling Nielsen
. The improvisatore, or, Life in Italy. London: Richard Bentley1845.
Mit eget Eventyr uden Digtning (en Skizze)
written 1846, first published in Danish in 1942. Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag. Arnold Busck. In English translation by Mary Howitt. The true story of my life. London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longman 1847.
Translations of the stories
Wonderful stories for children
. By Hans Christian Anderson [sic], Author of ‘The improvisatore’ etc. Mary Howitt. London: Chapman and Hall1846.