Translation within the margin: The "Libraries" of Henry Bohn

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This chapter considers the Victorian publisher Henry G. Bohn as a pioneer in the publishing of translated classics for a general market. Through his ‘Standard Library’, established in 1846, and the equally successful ‘Classical Library’ (1848), Bohn made literature in translation available to a mass readership at the then low prices of three shillings and sixpence or five shillings. Targeted at the Victorian reader eager for self-improvement, most of the volumes in Bohn’s Libraries were highly improving in nature, with an emphasis on history, biography and philosophy, much of it by Continental authors. Bohn’s catalogue also included, however, some of the more notorious classics of European literature, including the <i>Decameron </i>(published 1855), Marguerite de Navarre’s <i>Heptameron </i>(1855), the <i>Satyricon </i>of Petronius (1854), the poems of Catullus (1854), Apuleius’s <i>Golden Ass </i>(1853) and the epigrams of Martial (1860). While ‘unexpurgated’ translations of some of these works would be published for private circulation in the Victorian period, the norms of the period required that they be censored to fit them for a general market.


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