The politics of translation: sanitizing violence in William of Palerne

Ward, Renee (2015) The politics of translation: sanitizing violence in William of Palerne. Studies in Philology, 112 (3). pp. 469-489. ISSN 0039-3738

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Critics frequently identify the fourteenth-century Middle English alliterative romance William of Palerne as a relatively faithful translation of the twelfth-century Old French Guillaume de Palerne. They also often remark that the English poet heavily abbreviates significant episodes in the original, most notably those concerning central martial events: the Duke of Saxony's rebellion against the emperor (OF 1781–2439; ME 1067–1325) and the protagonist's breaking of the Siege of Palermo (OF 5459–7035; ME 3261–3934). While explanations for these abbreviations vary, none directly examines the content of the reduced passages in order to understand the poet's motivations. A comparative analysis of the French and English depictions of these sequences, however, reveals that the English poet goes to great lengths either to eliminate specific content from his source or to significantly sanitize much of the violence present in the original. He carefully separates his protagonist from the characterizations of the French text that employ negative animal imagery and depictions of excessive or unrestrained violence, and he reworks the dénouement scene connected to the protagonist's lupine (werewolf) companion. Contextual evidence suggests that these targeted edits link directly to the poet's patron, Humphrey IX de Bohun: the absent or missing content has ties to Humphrey's social and political position within the fraught internal politics of fourteenth-century England, as well as to his childhood experiences within this context.

Keywords:werewolf, alliterative romance, violence, knights, William of Palerne, Guillaume de Palerne, Humphrey de Bohun, NotOAChecked
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q210 Literature in translation
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q200 Comparative Literary studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q910 Translation studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:25215
Deposited On:01 Dec 2016 14:42

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