The adventures of a <i>Amsterdam Spaniard</i>

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Translations are not produced in a void, but in a continuum of textual and extra-textual constraints. The history of translation is rich in examples of the ways translation can be used in the service of ideological agendas. Particularly interesting is the genre of pseudo-translations, since they attempt to match the existing images and expectations of their readers, while engaging with contemporary discourses. In the context of the Eighty Years’ War between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish monarchy (1568–1648), it is not a coincidence that translator and pseudo-translator G. De Bay decided to use this recent period of Dutch history in his pseudo-translations (1658, 1671). In his On the Hell and Purgatory of the world or The Life of the Amsterdam Spaniard (1671), De Bay plays with and perpetuates images about a past that were shared by his audience and that were starting to become a ‘national’ past. To attract his readers’ attention, he presented his works as translations from the Spanish to give them an air of mystery, since they were supposed to have been written by the old enemy. His imitation of the successful Spanish genre of the picaresque novel was also a successful narrative strategy since this genre was much liked among the Dutch public and presented – when taken literally – a negative image of the Spaniards and their country. Literary works such as those by De Bay render the origin of collective national identities tangible, since we know that a collective sense of identity is derived from shared historical awareness.


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