Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1932-2798
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2700
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Mme Lesbazeille-Souvestre’s translation of Jane Eyre, published in 1854, was the first to appear in French and has been re-edited numerous times, most recently in 2001. This analysis uses both the translator’s preface and the translation itself to explore how the translator constructed what was often seen as a problematically “feminine” text into a normatively “feminine” one and, in so doing, asserted herself as an author in her own right. In her translator’s preface, Lesbazeille-Souvestre aims to assure her readers that in translating she felt a duty of fidelity to the text and to the text’s author, and thus that they are reading a linguistically faithful translation. In the translation itself, however, and in contradiction to her stated goal, she actively attempted to construct Jane Eyre as a text that is proper both for a female writer to have produced and for female readers to consume by consistently negating the so-called “masculine” elements she found in the novel. The character of Jane Eyre is significantly altered in the translation in ways that bring her more in line with conventional feminine values. Lesbazeille-Souvestre’s protestations of complete fidelity in her preface must therefore be questioned and viewed through the lens not only of what it meant to translate in the nineteenth century but of what it meant to translate and to write as a woman.


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