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Speaker: Howard Gaskill (Edinburgh)

Despite the appearance of Goethe’s reworked version of the novel in 1787, the Werther that made all the running in the Anglophone world, until well into the nineteenth century, was a relay translation from the French, based on the Weygand second edition of 1775. It was not until 1854 that this was superseded by R.D. Boylan’s translation of the revised Werther. Since then, to my knowledge, all subsequent translations into English, apart from William Rose’s in 1929, have been of the second version. They include at least five this century. In this paper I discuss some of the issues I have encountered in attempting to translate into English Werther in its first and most influential incarnation. These will include what has been called the 'instability of originals' and its implications for translators, also how the Anglophone translator should approach the novel’s extensive adaptation from Macpherson’s intrinsically unstable Ossian.

This lecture will be held in person (Room G37, Senate House) and will be streamed live via Zoom. 

Attendance is free. Advance registration is essential.