Transit, Translation, Transformation:

The Fate of Some Italian Querelle-related Texts in Early Modern England, 1579-1615

By Brenda Hosington (Université de Montréal, Canada; University of Warwick, University College London, UK)


The role of translation in promoting and spreading the querelle des femmes, the woman controversy, in the period from its first appearance in the late fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth is extremely important, although little has been written to date on the contribution of translated texts to this cultural phenomenon. This essay proposes a modest beginning to a needed study of these querelle-inspired translations in transit by discussing some of the ways in which Italian works on women were sent to, and received in, England during the period 1550-1615. Ranging from tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron and Ariosto’s satires and Orlando Furioso, to general works on love, on beauty, and on jealousy, they also include conduct books, and a pair of very controversial pro and contra marriage texts by the Tasso brothers. The English translators often transformed the dynamics of the Italian texts through textual shifts but also, sometimes in collaboration with the printers, through paratextual and material changes. Thus they transplanted and transformed Italian works on women and marriage to make them attractive to English readers and applicable to English women.

Keywords: early modern translation, querelles des femmes, Anglo-Italian intertraffic

©inTRAlinea & Brenda Hosington (2019).
"Transit, Translation, Transformation: The Fate of Some Italian Querelle-related Texts in Early Modern England, 1579-1615"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Transit and Translation in Early Modern Europe
Edited by: Donatella Montini, Iolanda Plescia, Anna Maria Segala and Francesca Terrenato
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The role of translation in promoting and spreading the writings of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature, education, and social role of women, from its first appearance in late fifteenth-century France to its status as a transnational European cultural phenomenon by the end of the seventeenth, is significant, although very little has been written on it to date. Nor has much interest been expressed in the way in which translation intersected with the practices of the print trade in providing new and avid readers with texts in praise and dispraise of women and printers with a lucrative source of income. The story of how such texts transited across early modern Europe, being inevitably re-worked and repackaged by both translators and printers in the process, remains to be told.

As Warren Boutcher has admirably demonstrated in an essay on what he calls the ‘intertraffic’ of transnational texts and languages, the dissemination of translations must be examined alongside that of books, while the extremely varied types of such dissemination, as well as of production methods, must be taken into account (Boutcher 2015). In a long series of ‘difficult’ questions pertinent to both these aspects of textual transfer, he covers a wide range of considerations that can shed light on the business of translation as it was conducted across Europe. Amongst these, he asks under what conditions the transit of texts across national boundaries, and sometimes historical time zones, takes place and what changes, if any, the text undergoes in the hands of the translator and new printer. These are two questions posed in the present essay with regard to a corpus of querelle-related texts produced in Italy and later translated and published in England between 1579 and 1615.

The fact that so many texts on women and marriage did cross borders is evident from various works that have discussed the querelle over the past fifty years. Ruth Kelso’s Doctrine for the Lady of the Renaissance listed no fewer than 891 titles of both original and translated works for the period c.1400 to 1640. Although these consisted primarily of what she considered conduct books - many of which would be viewed differently today - some were general works on the nature of womankind (Kelso 1956: 327-424). Of particular interest is the dominance of Italian-authored works, although we should remember that the querelle was started by an Italian-born woman, albeit one living in France, Christine de Pisan. Of the 891 works mentioned, 266 (29.8 per cent) are by Italians, who form the largest national group, followed by the French. With regard to translations, Kelso lists some but omits many, while she sometimes mistakes translations for original works; she also fails to itemize certain querelle-related works that were translated into multiple languages, for example those written by both important participants in the debate, such as Erasmus, Vives, Boccaccio, Castiglione and Agrippa, and lesser known contributors. Translation, then, played a more important role than Kelso’s list would have us believe. Gisela Bock, in a chapter of her Women in European History entitled “Querelle des femmes: A European Gender Dispute”, charts the paths followed by writers involved in the debate in what she claims is a body of roughly one thousand works, excluding translations and reprints, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries alone (Bock 2002: 1-31). Tellingly, of the 45 works she mentions for that period, 15 (33.3 per cent) are Italian, while 18 of the 45 (40 per cent) were translated into one or more languages.

It is therefore unsurprising that in England in the period 1473-1640 many of the printed works on women were translations; according to the entries in the Renaissance Cultural Crossroads Catalogue, they account for 45 out of 115, or 39 per cent, which is much higher than the 19.4 per cent average for all printed texts (Renaissance Cultural Crossroads; Boutcher 2015). From the very beginning of print in England with Caxton’s Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry, probably produced in 1484, such translated foreign works proliferated, serving in turn as models for later original compositions. Anne Coldiron has demonstrated that in the early period French works dominated (Coldiron 2009) but these were soon joined by others in Latin, Italian, Spanish and German. Yet studies of the English querelle such as the chapter in Louis B. Wright’s Middle-class Culture in Elizabethan England (Wright 1935), Linda Woodbridge’s Women and the English Renaissance. Literature and the Nature of Womankind 1540-1640 (Woodbridge 1984), Katherine Usher Henderson and Barbara McManus’s  Half Humankind: Contexts & Texts of the Controversy about Women in England 1540-1640 (Henderson and McManus 1985), and Nancy Isenberg’s “Encomio a vituperio: Un secolo e mezzo di scritti inglesi sulla donne (1484-1640)”, although including a few translations, do not discuss their particular contribution to the debate. Even a monograph devoted specifically to the treatment of women in early modern Italian and English literary works treats them separately, affording no discussion, for example, of Hoby’s Castiglione or Harington’s Ariosto, and saying nothing of the exportation of other Italian texts to England through the medium of translation (Benson 1992).

Yet, even within the time period considered in this essay, translations of Italian works published in England number no fewer than nine, as compared with six from Latin and four from French, and they cover a range of subjects. Three discuss popular querelle topics: the art of love in Leon Battista Alberti’s Ecatomphila; the question of beauty in Tommaso Buoni’s I Problemi della bellezza; and the nature of jealousy in Benedetto Varchi’s Sopra vn sonetto della gelosia di Mons. dalla Casa. Two are courtesy books, Giovanni Michele Bruto’s La institutione di una fanciulla  nata nobilmente and Stefano  Guazzo’s La Civil conversatione, while Ortensio Lando’s Paradossi brought the debate into the popular realm of paradox. Satire is represented by one of Ariosto’s Satire and poetry by two excerpts from his Orlando Furioso. The ninth and most controversial work is Dell’ammogliarsi. Piacevole contesa by Ercole and Torquato Tasso.[1]

These texts transited across the English Channel in various ways, as we shall see. In the first section of this essay we shall discuss those that were translated directly from their Italian source; in the second, those that were made from intermediate French translations; and in the third, those that were retranslated. Whatever the mode of transition, however, these various renderings were all transformed to suit a new readership in a new linguistic and socio-cultural context. This was done to varying degrees and in different ways, not only in terms of language but also in terms of their paratextual and material features. It is on the latter that the ensuing discussion will focus, for they played an important role in commenting on the production of the book in which they appeared, explaining and reinforcing meaning, and shaping and defining the reader’s understanding and appreciation of it (Smith and Wilson 2011).  

Our first example of a direct translation is that of volume one of Leon Battista Alberti’s 1471 Baptistae de Albertis poetae, laureati de amore liber optimus feliciter incipit, which was entitled   Ecatomphila che ne insegna l’ingeniosa arte d’Amore.[2] The work is a conservative treatise instructing women how to find and keep a husband by being submissive and subservient to him and is put into the mouth of a now happily married woman, Ecatomphila.  The anonymous 1598 English translation, Hecatonphila. The Arte of Loue. OR, Loue discouered in an hundred seuerall kindes, presents a very different face, starting with the title. While neither Alberti nor his printer found it necessary to spell out the meaning of ‘Ecatomphila’, the English translator, or his printer, did, which supposes a less educated readership.  The Greek term was nevertheless retained, presumably as a prestige marker that would help sell the book.

The early Italian editions contain dedications either by Alberti or by Garanta, an editor and publisher, and respect the rhetorical norms of the humanist dedication. The English dedicatory epistle, as well as inevitably domesticating the text by replacing the Italian dedicatee by an English one, is cut from very different cloth. The dedicatee was Henry Prannell, a wealthy vintner and ‘the true Friend and Fauourer of all ludable Professions’, while the epistle was signed ‘Hecatonphila’ (A4r). Since this is the name of the woman of experience whose ventriloquised monologue constitutes the whole work, we suspect a joke. Our suspicions are reinforced by the translator’s self-identification as a ‘Stranger’, who has ‘neuer [tread] on English ground til this instant’; he learned his ‘rude English’ from an English friend of Prannell’s, who encouraged him to leave aside the allurements of Italy and France and ‘trie the aire & climate of faire Englands Maiden Kingdome’ (A4v). A series of clues point to the prolific and rather controversial writer, translator and sometime actor, Anthony Munday, as the author of the translation: the joking creation of a persona who is both bizarre and foreign, as the pun in ‘Stranger’ suggests, the use of topoi found in his  other paratexts, and the humorous feminizing of England as a ‘Maiden Kingdome’, a country ruled by the virgin queen Elizabeth and thus an appropriate receptor for a monologue on womanly behaviour pronounced by an authoritative woman and directed to her ‘dear sisters’. The playful and teasing tone, one well attested to in many of his other paratexts (Wilson 2011), suggests Munday’s authorship. Moreover, he translated another three works related to the querelle, two of which will be discussed later.

Another paratext that effects change in the translation and is original to it is the ‘Argument’ that precedes the text. Alberti’s setting for Ecatomphila’s monologue is a theatre, in which she and her ‘sisters’ await the arrival of the actors on stage (‘mentre che i mimmi e personaggi soprastanno a venire qui in teatro’); seeing them desperately searching throughout the audience for a lover, she seizes the occasion to advise them on how to find one. She breaks off only when the actors have put on their costumes and the performance is about to begin (‘veggo già lo spettacolo preparato, e qui cominciano intrare e’ travestiti e personati’), promising ‘amorose astuzie piu dotte’ (more learned amorous tricks) at another time and place, surely an ironic touch, but one that Munday omits. He keeps the theatre setting but encases it within a specific framework, that of the marriage celebrations of the Duke of Ferrara’s son and the Marquis of Mont-Ferrat’s daughter.[3] In the ‘Argument’, he explains that during the festivities there were ‘stately Tragedies’ and ‘queint conceited Comedies’, but also discussions of love, ‘laying downe Rules, grounds, and principles, whereby (at full) to instruct the true Arte of Loue’, as recounted in the present work. Then, ‘one Ladie (amongst the rest, tearming her selfe Hecatonphila) was allowed to be chiefe Speaker’ and despite her previous ‘indifferent’ instructions ‘concerning the proceeding in so weightie a matter’ addressed the company. Thus the translation retains but expands Alberti’s theatrical setting and replicates the ironic tone of the original vis-a-vis Hecatonphila. However, it also does more. It echoes other works on love and women that use a similar frame for their querelle-inspired debate, Domenichi’s La Nobilità delle donne, for example, set within the celebratory events marking the young Faustina Sforza di Santa Fiora’s arrival at the home of her new husband, Muzio Sforza marquis of Caravaggio.

Tommaso Buoni’s 1605 Problemi della bellezza, di tutti gli Affetti Humani. Con un discorso della Bellezza del Medesimo Autore is a very different kind of work, a serious,  scholarly discussion of beauty and other human emotions. The paratexts all contribute to this gravitas, shaping the reader’s expectation of a learned disquisition.  The ornate engraved title-page announces it is written by a citizen of Lucca and member of the Roman Academy  and is dedicated to the ‘illvstrissimo Don Carlo Tocco’, a member of an old aristocratic family important enough to be mentioned here; inside, there is a dedication to him, an address entitled ‘A Benigni Lettori’, clearly written for a scholarly readership, and the ‘Copia’, permission to print, granted as always by the ecclesiastical authorities but also the ‘Signori Reformatori del Studio di Padova’, one of Italy’s most prestigious university cities. The English title-page, in contrast, is plain, naming the author but omitting his scholarly credentials, not naming any dedicatee, and identifying the translator only by his initials, ‘S.L.’, and more lowly status of ‘Gent’. It nevertheless flags the work as Italian by mentioning the source language and describing its author as a ‘cittizen of Lucca’. The Italian prefatorial paratexts are omitted, while a new dedicatory epistle again strikes a rather different note.  Lennard Samson, the translator, addresses his relative of the same name, and echoing Buoni’s address to the reader, entreats his dedicatee ‘not to sticke in the title, or to thinke it a subiect unworthy your grauitie, being grauely handled’ (B5v). Buoni had explained his publication of this and other early works by saying that ‘pensai ancora di mano in mano dar in luce le piu graui...che non meno delle piaceuoli, che delle saggi cose’.  Moreover, Samson emphasises that sense of ‘grauitie’ by opening with a quotation from Seneca and subsequently demonstrating his familarity with the rhetorical rules of composing dedications. He also clearly understands the rhetoric of patronage, praising Lennard’s father, wife and many children. The translation itself follows closely the organisation and layout of the original, including the twenty chapters on women that explain its place in the literature of the querelle, while there is no discernible shift in Buoni’s mix of praise and dispraise of female beauty. Rather, transformation occurs in the packaging of the work for a less highly educated and less aristocratic readership through the new paratexual matter.

The case of the English rendering of Benedetto Varchi’s 1545 Lettvra di M. Benedetto Varchi, sopra vn sonetto della gelosia di Mons. della Casa is rather similar. The text itself, once again, is an academic discussion by a learned man, a member of the Florentine Academy. The subject is jealousy, as treated in a sonnet by Giovanni della Casa, Florentine scholar, poet, and author of the short misogynist tract Quaestio lepidissima: an uxor sit ducenda. Varchi’s discussion is accompanied by four discursive paratexts:  a letter addressed by the writer and literary critic Francesco Sansovino to the aristocratic and learned poet Gaspara Stampa, whose Rime contained many poems on jealousy; a letter by Varchi in the Paduan Accademia de gl’Infiammati and accompanied by della Casa’s poem; and a sonnet by Baldassar Stampa, Gaspara’s brother, addressing Varchi’s comments on della Casa’s treatment of jealousy. In other words, this was a collaborative production by a constellation of high-ranking Italian cultural practitioners all focussed on the subject of jealousy, and  whose prefatorial paratexts included a letter to one of Italy’s most famous and respected learned women.

No such constellation presided over the publication of the English translation, produced seven decades later by a man of far more modest reputation, the minor poet and biographer Robert Tofte, author of seven translations, four of which were querelle-related. The main title of his 1615 Varchi translation, The Blazon of Jealovsie, in bold and huge Roman capitals, dominates the title-page and hints at the heightened interest paid to women in the translation. The word ‘blazon’, meaning ‘vivid description’, was also used for a genre of poem cataloguing and praising, in metaphorical mode, the various parts of a woman’s body. Here, both senses are being clearly intended. Although seven of the eight prefatorial paratexts are male- orientated (the dedication to Edward Dimmock, address to the ‘Ignorant reader and to the base Carper’, lives of Varchi and Sansovino, poem to a jealous husband, poems on the translation and to the translator), the eighth is a translation of Sansovino’s epistle to Gaspara Stampa. The Italian title,  ‘Alla nobilissima et bellissima madonna Gaspara Stampa’, is rather pretentiously translated as ‘To the no lesse noble, then faire, and yet not more faire then learned, the Lady Gaspara Stampa’, while in the text  ‘Valorosissima Giouane’ becomes ‘Chaste, and matchlesse Virgin’. Sansovino speaks only of his ‘debt’ to Gaspara but Tofte turns this into a plea for forgiveness for neglecting his duty to her and calls this attempt to make up for it ‘wooing’; the Italian is drawn by her ‘valore’ and ‘virtù’ but Tofte by her ‘peerlesse Worth, and spotlesse Vertue’.  The references to chastity, virginity, wooing, and spotlessness introduce a suggestion of sexuality. Sansovino tells Gaspara she demonstrates ‘ualore et il purgatissimo giudicio... di gran lunga auanzi lode comune’; Tofte translates the first part rather loosely by ‘admirable wit and sound judgement’, but not the second, which suggests that these qualities deserve ‘far and away beyond ordinary praise’.  Rather, he offers a clichéd, gender biased and condescending comment: ‘you farre exceede any one of your sexe’ (A4r).  Gaspara reappears in Tofte’s life of Varchi, who devoted himself ‘vnto the vertuous Seruice of [this] faire and learned Gentlewoman’, and to whom he was (reassuringly no doubt) attached ‘more for the beautie of her minde, than for that of her body’ (sig. B1r). Her name arises yet again, fleetingly, in the life of Francesco Sansovino (whom Tofte confuses with his architect father). The English prefatorial paratextual matter is therefore not without a feminine presence, albeit one presented with the familiar entwinement of learning, beauty, and chasteness. In Tofte’s other paratextual intervention - his marginalia - this appears more often and more negatively.

In his seminal Managing Readers. Printed Marginalia in English Renaissance Books, William Slights explains the multiple functions of marginal annotations that authors, translators, or those involved in early modern book production often included alongside, above, below or around the text on the printed page: to provide information, instruction, interpretation, evaluation or correction. In doing so, like other paratexts, they shaped and manipulated the reader’s relationship with the text (Slights 2001). The marginalist could support, challenge, or subvert it in order to ‘carry the reader’, as Slights says, ‘beyond the visible boundaries defined by the edge of the printed page’ (Slights 2001: 43). In the case of a translated text, those visible material boundaries were accompanied by other less visible ones: geographical, temporal, and socio-linguistic. The translator-marginalist could carry the target reader across them by domesticating the text in various ways, including the provision of annotations that would resituate it in the new receptor culture by explaining or commenting on the source text.

Tofte’s marginalia in The Blazon of Jealousie fulfill many of the functions listed by Slights but they do more. As pointed out long ago by George Morrow Karhl, his previous translations of the Tasso cousins’ Dell’ ammogliarsi. Piacevole contesa, Les quinze joyes du mariage and Ariosto’s Satira IV on marriage had constituted stages in a life ‘devoted to unmasking the wiles and deceits of women, lamenting the sorrows and devotion of men’. The annotations that ‘crammed the margins’ of the Varchi translation bore witness to his constant thoughts about women and jealousy (Kahrl 1934: 49). While Kahrl offers a detailed account of the marginalia, he singles out only four examples of annotations on women (one on virtuous women, one quoting Plato on the need to ‘curb’ a ‘curst wife’, and two on Montaigne’s comments on jealousy in women).  In four more places, however, Tofte either contradicts or comments sarcastically on a point made in the original. Thus, while Varchi  refuses to differentiate between or compare the two genders in terms of their jealousy, Tofte has no qualms about doing so, insisting that women are ‘more imperfect’ than men, being ‘the weaker vessell’ (p. 34).  Whereas Varchi says that some men are jealous of even a discreet, modest wife, Tofte admits he himself ‘abhorreth a Woman of much tongue’ and would rather ‘be infected with the seven deadly sins’ than be the husband of a ‘scold’ (p. 17). Another annotation contains two stories from the Decameron showing men’s jealousy but also women’s decetifulness and deviousness (p. 24).  Later, Tofte agrees with Varchi in warning men not to be too zealous in watching their wives, but then adds a comment, ‘For this makes women worse than they would be’, followed by a proverbial poem to that effect (p. 30). Finally, he indulges in an elaborate disclaimer when speaking of Montaigne’s negative views on female jealousy, claiming ‘I will not in any wise subscribe to such an Hereticall opinion as [his]’, asking pardon directly of the ‘fayre Ladies and Gentlewomen’, and insisting on making ‘amends’; however, he undercuts all this by ending with the anti-feminist comment that jealous Englishmen can become as ‘virulent ... as any Woman Virago whatsoever’ (p. 58).     

Tofte had demonstrated his penchant for marginalia earlier, in his translation of another querelle-related text, this time by Ariosto: the fifth of his seven Satire addressed to his cousin Annibale Malegucio, who was about to marry. It gives the nod to the medieval tradition of misogynist works cast in comic satiric mode, but also owes something to rather more nuanced humanist writings on marriage. In both, however, views on marriage and on women go hand in hand and often result in works advising on how to choose a wife.[4] Ariosto’s story of Dr. Buonleo, who took a young wife in his old age with disastrous results (ll. 31ff), clearly belongs to the tradition of January/May tales. This is confirmed in Tofte’s  Ariostos Satyres, in Seven Famovs Discourses where he adds an allusion to a late medieval work, Pierre Gringoire’s La complainte de trop tard marié, translated in 1535 by Robert Copland: ‘Elect betimes your mate,/Better too soone to marry then too late’ (p. 50). Ariosto’s declaration that ‘senza moglie a lato/non puote uomo in bontade esser perfetto’ (ll. 14-15), translated by Tofte as ‘men cannot in perfect goodnesse stand,/Vnlesse he liue within the mariage band’ (p. 49), seems to articulate the more recent, enlightened view on the advantages of marriage but it is immediately followed by the age-old grudging acceptance of marriage as a means of avoiding adultery and sexual intemperance (ll. 16-18). Tofte not only translates this but reinforces it by adding a paraphrase of St. Paul’s famous dictum, ‘and yet I sadly mourne,/That then to marry, I haue chose to burne’ (pp. 48-49). In the next three lines, Ariosto draws on misogynist depictions of women as food: ‘tordo o quaglia’, and ‘fagiani’, translated by Tofte as ‘For if to day he feed on larke or quaile,/ Next morne, heele haue the Phesant or the Raile’. While the extra bird conveniently provided a rhyme, it also represented a negative aspect of women referred to later in the text, for rails were known for their secretiveness. Ariosto’s frequent comparisons of women to various animals (horses, cattle, cows, does, dogs) are often expanded by Tofte to be even more denigrating: ‘cavalli’ are ‘trotting racers [from which] amblers seldome breede’ (p. 53); ‘un cavallo’ is ‘a Colt’, a young horse difficult to control; secretive women are like  ‘the Cat who buries vnder ground/Her ordure, lest by men it should be found’ (p. 57); hypocritical Puritan women are like ‘cats when they doe seeme to sleepe’ (p. 58). Elsewhere, Ariosto’s animals are changed to represent those specifically associated with sexuality: ‘cani’ become ‘spaniels [who] with stroking we doe gentle find’, ‘di vacca nascer cerva non videsti’ is ‘A Hare you neuer saw bring forth a Hart’ (p. 53). Alliteration perhaps dictated this last change, as did rhyme in the above-mentioned bird example and the metrical constraints of Tofte’s decasyllabic rhyming couplets with regard to elaborations and additions. However, since the changes in question almost all concern negative aspects of women and marriage, they are certainly not accidental and contribute to intensifying the anti-feminine nature of Ariosto’s text.

Both this 1608 edition of the translation and the later one in 1611, retitled Ariostos Seven Planets Gouerning Italie, have copious marginalia that confirm some of the points just made. Some annotations are explicatory and informative, others support or evaluate statements made in the Italian text. However, the majority reinforce Ariosto’s anti-feminine statements on women. In the first edition they number 15 out of 25, explaining his views on marriage and his tale of Doctor Buonleo, supplying information about his mistress, commenting on women who beautify themselves, and discussing cuckoldry. The second edition retains these annotations but adds another four, two of which comment negatively on women and marriage: the Sirens who attempted to seduce Ulysses and the mistaken interpretation of Hymen’s yellow robes as showing the ‘cares, feares, and ielousies of marriage’. If indeed, as Slights claims, ‘the primary effect of printed marginalia is the creation and instruction of a community of readers’ (Slights 2001: 65), Tofte’s annotations in this translation, as in The Blazon of Jealousy, were intended to appeal to and further instruct a male readership likely to appreciate the literature of the querelle.            

In his earlier translation of another Italian text on the pros and cons of marriage, the 1593 Dell’ ammogliarsi. Piacevole contesa fra i due moderni Tassi by the cousins Ercole and Torquato Tasso, Tofte had not yet developed his taste for marginalia; he had however indulged his interest in controversial works on the subject of women and marriage. His Of Mariage and Wiuing. An excellent, pleasant, and Philosophicall Controuersie certainly deserved a place in that canon, although whether misogyny was the reason for its banning and destruction two months after its publication in 1599 remains a moot point; satire or Aretino-inspired anti-Italianness might also have been the cause (Keener 2013). Be that as it may, the misogynist nature of Ercole’s section is clear, as was the unease with which the work was presented in the first Italian discursive paratext.

As I have shown elsewhere, the Italian and English titles are quite different (Hosington 2016). Tofte, or perhaps the printer, who had more leeway in such matters than his modern counterpart, emphasised the subject of the work by use of a doublet, ‘mariage and wiuing’, with the second, gendered term echoing that of the Italian ‘ammogliarsi’. The English title also upgraded the work from a ‘Piacevole contesa’ (‘pleasant disputation’), to an ‘excellent ... and Philosophicall Controuersie’, which hints at a more serious discourse and places it in the tradition of treatises and debates on women and marriage rather than in that of comedy and satire. Ercole’s epistle to Giovanni Licino is translated because it serves to defend both the worth of the work and Ercole’s youthful anti-feminine stance, which it now disowns. These paratextual features combine to make the work seem a respectable, serious discussion of marriage. Moreover, the domesticating changes that Tofte introduced within the text, frequently replacing Italian cultural references by English ones and, notably, sanitizing critical comments on Queen Elizabeth while having her replace Ariosto’s named Italian learned women , must have seemed to make the work safer. Alas, for Tofte and the printer such was not the case.

The Italian texts we have discussed so far transited to England via a direct route. The next two, on the other hand, took a detour through France. As such they are indirect, or mediated translations, ‘based on a source (or sources) which itself is a translation into a language other than the language of the original, or the target language’ (Kittel and Frank 1991). Some attention has been paid to the practice of indirect translation (also called secondary, second-hand, or relay translation) in descriptive translation studies (Dollerup 2000; Toury 1995; Rosa, Pieta and Maia 2017; Marin-Lacarta 2017), and this with regard to both modern texts (Ringmar 2007) and some older ones, (Stackelberg 1984); however, little has appeared regarding the early modern period. One exception is Peter Burke’s claims that indirect translations were ‘often made’ in early modern Europe and that the ‘unashamed references to this process on title-pages’ suggest that they were not viewed as negatively as in the nineteenth century (Burke and Po-chia Hsia 2007: 27).

It is almost impossible to verify Burke’s first claim, given the lack of reliable bibliographical data. The ‘Universal Short Title Catalogue’, while tagging translations, does not indicate whether they are direct or indirect, or are themselves intermediate. Some figures for Britain are available for the period 1473-1640 thanks to the Renaissance Cultural Crossroads Catalogue of Translations; they demonstrate that indirect translations represent 11.6 per cent of the translations into English, that French is the most important mediating language followed closely by Latin, and that 55 per cent of the 322 Italian texts translated into English are mediated through French translations. Burke’s second claim, however, begs more attention. While many title-pages do recognise the existence of a mediating text, many others are not so explicit. Discursive paratexts have therefore to be consulted. Here, attitudes are mixed. Translators and printers are sometimes at pains to point out that the translation has been made from the original language, which lends it prestige and authority. On the other hand, they sometimes defend the use of intermediary translations on account of the difficulty of obtaining texts, which suggests that the practice was not seen entirely positively. At other times they camouflage the immediate source of the translation or the identity of the intermediate translator, which again suggests fear of disapproval. A more nuanced interpretation of attitudes towards early modern indirect translation is therefore needed.

Only two of the works in our corpus constitute indirect translations but they illustrate two different ways of handling their intermediate texts. The first is what I would call a hybrid version: George Pettie’s 1581 rendering of Stefano Guazzo’s La Civil conversatione via Gabriel Chappuys’s 1579 La civile conversation.[5]  The English title, The ciuile conuersation of M. Steeven Guazzo, written first in Italian, and nowe translated out of French, indeed contains an ‘unashamed’ reference to the intermediate text. However, in his brief afterword addressed to his ‘gentle readers’, Pettie explains his modus operandi: ‘I haue supplied diuers thinges out of the Italian original, whiche were left out by the French translator ... I haue included the places within two starres, as you may see within the booke’ (sig. jiiiv). While this claims fidelity to the  original source - and incidentally seems a very modern method of indicating interpolated passages to the reader - at the same time it suggests that mediating translations were not always trusted by the early modern translator.

 Unlike Guazzo and Chappuys, Pettie dedicates his work to a woman, ‘the Lady Norrice’, a friend of Queen Elizabeth’s and the wife of a famous soldier. He praises her as being ‘undued with singular wit and learning’ and bearing ‘especiall fauour’ to the latter, but above all he defines her as a mother, likening her to Olympia (mother to Alexander the Great), Hecuba and Thetes (mothers of the famous warriors Hector and Achilles), and Cornelia (mother of the Gracchi brothers). Her renown, he claims, is partly due to her own deeds but also to those of her sons, to whom he allots far more lines. The greater attention paid to the male members of the Norris family, and particularly to their glorious exploits in the Netherlands, lessens the importance of the female praise, shifts Guazzo’s work into a very English context, and prepares the reader for further English cultural references that Pettie adds to his text. It also reduces the impact on the reader of its being concerned – at least in Book III – with wives and marriage.

In Pettie’s ‘Preface to the Readers’, another reference to women gives us pause for thought. He defends learning by pointing out that a gentleman cannot serve and counsel his prince well without it, nor, ‘to come lower’, can he discourse with foreigners and ambassadors; then, ‘to come lowest of all’, he cannot tell his mistress ‘a fine tale’ or ‘delight her with a pleasant deuice’. Despite his praise of Lady Norris’s learning in the dedication and Elizabeth’s in the text , he clearly assigns women a lower rung on the intellectual and social ladder, confining them to  the medium of fiction and entertainment.

In 1607, Pettie’s Ciuil conuersation was reduced to Book III, retitled, repackaged, and republished by a different printer.  Its paratextual and material features suggest it was intended for a lower and less educated class. The title-page boldly announced it as The Court of good Counsell. Wherein is set downe the true rules, how a man should choose a good Wife from a bad, and a woman a good Husband from a bad. Then, almost as an afterthought, and set in much smaller font, ‘Wherein is also expressed, the great care that Parents should haue, etc.  Thus marriage and women are highlighted as the most important subject in the book, which was not the case of either the original, or its French translation, or indeed of the 1581 English one. The mention of the source and intermediate languages is gone, as is the translator’s name. Two new paratexts mark a shift in the intended readership of this edition.  The dedication is to Sir John Joles Knight, a London alderman and member of the Drapers Company, someone distinctly down a notch from Lady Norris, or indeed from Guazzo’s and Chappuys’s potential readers. Finally, a Table of Contents indicating the division of the work into chapters, each with a brief resume explaining the contents, facilitated reading but at the same time highlighted the faults of wives, stepmothers and daughters and described the means by which to correct them. Inside the work, the two interlocutors, the anti-femininist Guazzo and more enlightened Magnocavallo, have disappeared and the dialogue form has thus given way to continuous prose. The result is the transformation of both the original text and intermediate French translation, and even of Pettie’s 1581 edition.

The second indirect translation is Anthony Munday’s 1593 The Defence of Contraries. Paradoxes against common exercise yong wittes in difficult matters. The original Italian work, Ortensio Lando’s  Paradossi, cioè sententie fvora del comvn parere nouellamente venute in luce. Opera non men dotta, che piacevole, & in due parti separata..., first published in Lyon in 1543, was paraphrastically translated by the French lexicographer, translator and member of the illustrious Estienne family of printers, Charles Estienne. His Paradoxes, ce sont propos contre la commune opinion appeared in Paris in three editions in 1553 before going through another sixteen full and partial editions before the end of the century (Peach 1998). One of these, perhaps one that appeared in 1554, served as Munday’s source text if we are to go by his title, which addresses ‘yong wittes’ (‘les jeunes esprits’) rather than the young lawyers (‘jeunes advocats’) mentioned in the other editions. The Italian work as a whole did not focus on the querelle, but it did contain five chapters on women. The first was ‘Meglio è d’aver la moglie sterile che feconda’, translated into French as ‘Declamation 8, ‘Pour la sterilite’, ‘Que la femme sterile est plus heureuse que la fertile’ and into English as ‘For Sterilite, Declamation 8, That the barren woman is more happie, then the Childe-bearing’ (pp. 68-75).  Estienne omitted the second paradox, number XI, ‘Non essere detestabile né odiosa la moglie disonesta’, but he translated the third, Number XXI, ‘Non essere dolersi se la moglie si muoia e troppo stoltamente far chiunque la piagne’ as ‘Que la femme morte est chose utile à l’homme’. Munday, at the end of the Defence of contraries, promised to publish this particularly anti-feminine paradox as ‘That a dead wife is a most profitable vertue to hir husband, and better than a liuing Wife’, and to include it in a second volume ’vpon the good acceptation of this first Booke’ (sig.100). That plan did not materialize.

Munday had also intended to include another paradox on women, Lando’s Paradosso XXV, ‘Che la donna è di maggior eccellenza che l’uomo’, which treated a very popular and controversial topic. It was translated by Estienne as ‘Declamation XXIV’, ‘Pour les Femmes. Que l’excellence de la femme est plus grande, que celle de l’homme’. With a pedigree dating back to Agrippa’s 1509 De nobilitate et praecellentia sexus foeminei, the paradoxical encomium of the woman was a well-tested genre by the time that Munday translated Estienne’s text, which is perhaps why he must have wanted it published at all costs, despite his failure to have the whole second volume printed. He thus had to adopt another strategy. In 1599, he published another paradoxical encomium, Alexandre de Pontaymeri’s 1594 Paradoxe apologique, ou il est fidelement demonstré que la femme est beaucoup plus parfaicte que l’Homme en toute action de vertu. He did so anonymously and with very significant changes that repackaged the work for an English readership (Hosington 2016). At the end of it was a new text, introduced as ‘An other defence of womens vertues, written by an Honorable personage, of great reckoning in Fraunce, and therefore thought meete to be oiyned wth the former discourse’ (pp. 62r-70v). Munday did not identify the author and until now neither has anyone else. However, the clue about France and the provision of the title give it away: ‘That Womans excellence is much greater then a mans’. It is indeed Estienne’s French version of Lando’s paradox. Removed from its original context, presented as a stand-alone text, yet included in a volume on the same subject, it followed a different route to an English readership from that of its fellow paradoxes and performed a new function, namely to reinforce the argument presented in another similar work, Pontaymeri’s Paradoxe apologique.

Unlike indirection, retranslation has received much attention in contemporary translation studies. Its generally accepted meaning now is a translation of a work made into the same target language as a previous translation of it (Gambier 1994). Antoine Berman  hypothesised that first translations assimilated more of the source text’s alterity than subsequent ones, which they saw as a failure; less domesticating later translations thus marked an improvement (Berman 1990).  This view was subsequently challenged, although the notion of progress and amelioration continues to colour critics’ discourse on retranslation (Venuti 2004), with the exception of Sharon Deane-Cox (Dean-Cox 2014). The questions of competitiveness and of motivation and agency, which can again imply deficiency in first round translations, also still hold sway.[6] As with the question of indirect translation, the discussion surrounding retranslation centres almost exclusively on post-early modern texts, despite the fairly large body of retranslations that came off the early printing presses. The retranslations in our study, like the indirect ones, number only two, but again they illustrate different features of the procedure.  

Giovanni Bruto’s La institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente, a courtesy manual presenting his original Italian text along with a facing French translation, was published in 1555. It transited to England twice, appearing in two different translations, two decades apart.[7] They provide a clear example, not only of the ways in which the paratextual and material features of a translation can recontextualise the foreign text for a new target readership, but also how they can effect changes between one translation of a text and another. The title of the first, Thomas Salter’s A Mirror mete for all Mothers, Matrones, and Maidens intituled the Mirrhor of Modestie, no lesse proftable and pleasant, then necessarie to bee read and practised, identifies the work’s potential readers, who encompass women of all ages and stations but were most likely members of the bourgeoisie and merchant class. This marks a distinct shift from Bruto’s readers, young women of elevated birth. The word ‘mirrhor’, repeated twice, places the text in the long tradition of so-called ‘mirror works’ that treated subjects of a serious, moral nature. The title-page mentions neither the author’s name nor the source text, nor that this is a translation. This appropriative strategy continues inside the work, with the discursive paratexts.  Bruto’s dedicatory epistle to Marietta Catanea, daughter of Silvestre Catanea, the wealthy Genoese Antwerp merchant mentioned in the inside title, the commendatory French poems, and Bruto’s postface all contextualised the Institutione within the city of Antwerp, where it was the first work to come off the Plantin press. Perhaps not surprisingly, they all disappear in the English work.    

The paratexts prefacing the translation, however, provide a similar if more modest contextualisation. The dedicatory epistle is addressed by Edward White, the printer of the translation, to an Englishwoman, the ‘right vertuous Matrone, and singuler good Ladie’, Anne Lodge, his wife’s stepmother.  Salter’s unsigned preface is addressed ‘to all Mothers, Matrones, and Maidens of Englande’, and his criticism of young women’s wayward behaviour is aimed specifically at ‘our Englishe Maidens’ (sig. Aiiiir). Since the Italian cultural references within the text are for the most part removed or replaced with English ones (Holm 1983), these paratexts, by effacing all alterity, play their traditional role of helping readers into the text and shaping their response to it. At the same time, they confirm the transformation of the context from Antwerp to London.

Another crucial transformation that Salter’s translation undergoes concerns genre. Bruto’s Institutione, essentially a conservative courtesy book instructing a young woman how to behave in society, was itself transformed by Jean Bellère, a French translator, bookseller and collaborator of Plantin’s, into a bilingual language manual intended to teach young Italian women French (Finotti 2015). Not only is Salter’s Mirrhor far less concerned with the acquisition of social virtues than with the attainment of morality through modesty and religion, offering a template to shape the ideal Christian young woman, it is also, and crucially, monolingual and devoid of any pedagogical linguistic aims. White calls the work a ‘pamphlet’ in the dedication and, indeed, this generic term is appropriate for it designated a small and less prestigious work than a book. The modesty to which Salter refers in his title was not confined to its contents; it is also applicable to its material features, transformed from those of the expensive Institutione, one of whose editions was even printed on azure blue paper.

The Institutione was retranslated and reprinted in 1598, entitled The necessarie, fit, and convenient Education of a yong Gentlewoman. Written both in French and Italian, and translated into English by W.P. And now printed with the three Languages togither in one Volume, for the better instruction of such as are desirous to studie those Tongues.  The English translator, known only by his intials W.P., was probably William Phiston. A comparison of the two translations shows that he did not use Salter’s; they are too different. Competitiveness and an aspiration for improvement can thus be eliminated.  Rather, the motivation behind the retranslation was probably commercial; multilingual language learning manuals were excellent sellers. Interestingly, this second translation was indeed closer to the original than the first: generically, as its title states explicitly; materially, since it provides the original Italian and French texts in italics in columns side by side, although privileging the English translation by placing it alone on the facing page and in larger roman font; and in spirit, describing the work as providing a ‘necessarie, fit, and convenient education’, which denotes secular rather than religious attributions and suggests social rather than narrowly moral concerns. Lastly, the translation of ‘fanciulla nata nobilmente’ by ‘yong Gentlewoman’ retains Bruto’s focus on young female readers of the upper class. These elements all contribute to preserving much of the original text’s alterity, thus making the retranslation far less domesticated than Salter’s rendering.

A different form of retranslation is seen in Robert Tofte’s 1597 Two Tales. Translated out of Ariosto: The one in dispraise of Men, the other in disgrace of Women, a rendering of stanzas 11-47 and 72-143 of Canto XLIII of Orlando Furioso. Here, the translator has taken two passages out of a long work and reconstituted them as a stand-alone publication. According to the information Tofte provides at the end of each tale, they were translated by him in Italy, in ‘Siena 28. Di Iulio 1592’ and in ‘Napoli agli 27. Di Marzo. 1593’. He presumably brought them back to England when he returned there in June 1594 (Williams 1937).  The language and font used both on the title-page and in the text emphasise the foreignness of the source text; the Italian author is named, while an appropriate stanza on jealousy taken from his Orlando Furioso appears in italics, probably to give the translation authority; finally, the work is clearly identified as a translation.  A new title had obviously to be created, which dominates the title-page by being in large, uppercase roman font. Tofte, or his printer, then provided an explanatory sub-title clearly signalling to the potential buyer, in word and in traditional binary gender-based form, that this was a work related to the querelle des femmes.

The single prefatorial paratext is an address that is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, it is directed only towards  men: ‘The Printer to the courteous and Gentlemen Readers’ (K2r). Valentine Sims clearly expected a potential male readership, perhaps on account of the title’s more eye-catching ‘disgrace of Women’ than its ‘dispraise of Men’. Secondly, it raises the question of retranslation, reminding the reader of Sir John Harington’s richly produced rendering, printed but six years before. In a probably pre-emptive move, Sims asserts that Tofte had no intention to ‘compare (as it were) with Master Haringtons verses (for he acknowledgeth himselfe euery way his inferiour)’; rather, he had translated Ariosto ‘but for his owne priuate exercise’, and at the ‘earnest intreatise of some gentlemen his friends’ in Italy in 1592; he is happy to publish his ‘harsh’ translation so that readers may perceive the ‘sweetness’ of Harington’s.[8]         

Two paratexts written by Tofte, an epilogue and an envoy, nevertheless align him more with the spirit of Harington than with that of Ariosto. While, according to his contemporaries and most of today’s critics, the Italian author presents, overall, what has been called a ‘profeminist’ portrait of women based on notions expounded by humanist defenders of the power of education to create virtue in women (Benson 1992), Harington’s attitude, according to Scarsi, is one of ‘instrinsic, deep-rooted misogyny’ (Scarsi 2010: 20 ). This is not the place to compare these three men’s feminist credentials but Tofte’s epilogue and envoy merit our attention for what they can add to the discussion. Both constitute undercutting ironic comments on women. The first praises the ‘Louely wife’ for her ‘wisdome’ in forgetting her husband’s faults but claims that such women no longer exist. In the second, the Narrator addresses his ‘faire Ladie’ as Argia, the young adulterous woman in the tale, whom he consistently portrays as more sensual than her Italian counterpart. He adopts the role of Adonio, the ‘Louing Knight’ who seduces her, and ends his envoy rather smuttily, claiming he can offer her something perhaps more pleasing than the golden dog offered to Argia. These paratextual changes, together with the fact that Tofte has decontextualized the two tales by removing the surrounding stanzas which sought to paint a more even-handed picture of the querelle debate, tend to render the translation more misogynyst.

In concluding this study of the fate of some italian querelle-related texts in England, we shall return to the questions first posed by Boutcher with regard to the transit, or ‘intertraffic’, of transnational texts and their dissemination through translation. We have seen the three different ways in which these Italian texts transited: by direct translation, by indirect translation through the medium of mediating French versions, and by retranslation. National borders were crossed but so, too, were temporal ones. Alberti’s Ecatomphila was written 127 years before its English translation, while Ariosto’s Satire and Varchi’s Lettura preceded theirs by almost three quarters of a century. The elite, humanistic world of Alberti’s quattrocento Italy had little in common with the bustling late sixteenth-century London milieu of theatre and print frequented by Munday, his translator. Nor, for example, had Varchi’s intellectual discussion of beauty, composed in the rarifed atmosphere of the Accademia de gl’Infiammati and intended for the likes of Sansovino, Gaspara and Baldassar Stampa and Varchi’s fellow academicians, emerged from the same context as that which provided Tofte with a rather precarious and unsatisfactory existence in the sphere of translation and print. Yet, through translation, transit and transformation, these nine Italian texts reached new readerships and ensured the continuation of the querelle as a transnational cultural phenomenon.


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List of Source Texts and their Translations

Alberti, Leon Battista,  Ecatomphila, che ne insegna l’ingenosia arte d’Amore in Baptistae de Albertis poetae laureati de amore liber optimus feliciter incipit, Padua, Laurentius Canozius, 1471. Anon., Hecatonphila. The Arte of Loue. Or, Loue discouered in an hundred seuerall kindes. London, P. S[hort] for William Leake, 1598.

Ariosto, Ludovico, Satire, Ferrara, Francesco Rossi, 1534. Robert Tofte, Ariosto’s Satyres, in Seven famovs Discourses, shewing the State, 1. Of the Court, and Courtiers. 2. Of Libertie, and the Clergie in generall. 3. Of the Romane Clergie. 4. Of Marriage. 5. Of Soldiers, Musitians, and Louers. 6. Of Schoolmasters and Scholers. 7. Of Honour, and the happiest Life. In English, by Geruis Markham [Robert Tofte], London, Nicholas Okes for Roger Jackson, 1608. Reprinted as Ariostos Seven Planets Gouerning Italie, Or, his Satyrs in Seuen Famous discourses, shewing the estate 1. Of the Court, and Courtriers ... Newly Corrected and Augmented, with many excellent and noteworthy Notes, together with a new Addition of three most excellent Elegies, written by the same Ludovico Ariosto, the effect whereof is contained in the Argument, London, William Stansby for Roger Jackson, 1611.

Ariosto, Ludovico, Orlando furioso, di messer Ludouico Ariosto nobile ferrarese nuouamente da lui proprio corretto e d’altri canti nuoui ampliato con gratie e priuiligii, Ferrara, Francesco Rosso da Valenza, 1532. R.T. [Robert Tofte], Two Tales. Translated out of Ariosto: The one in dispraise of Men, the other in disgrace of Women. With certaine other Italian Stanzas and Prouerbs. By R.T. gentleman, London, Valentine Sims, 1597.

Bruto, Giovanni Michele, La institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente, Antwerp, Christopher Plantin, 1555. Thomas Salter, A Mirrhor Mete for all Mothers, Matrones, and Maidens, intituled  the Mirrhor of Modestie, no lesse profitable and pleasant, then necessarie to bee read and practised, London, [J. Kingston] for Edward White, 1579.

Bruto, Giovanni Michele, La institutione di una fanciulla nata nobilmente, Antwerp, Christopher Plantin, 1555. Anon., The necessarie, fit, and convenient Education of a yong Gentlewoman. Written  both in French and Italian, and translated into English by W.P. And now printed with the three Languages together in one Volume, for the better instruction of such as are desirous to studie those Tongues, London, Adam Islip, 1598.

Buoni, Tommaso, I Problemi della bellezza, di tutti gli Affeti humani. Con vn discorso della Bellezza del Medesimo Autore, Venice, G. B. Ciotti, 1605. Samson Lennard, Problemes of Beavtie, and all Humane Affections. With a discourse of Beauty by the same Author. Translated into English by S. L., Gent., London, G. Eld for Edward Blount and William Aspley, 1606.

Guazzo, Stefano, La civil conversatione del sig. Stefano Guazzo, gentilhuomo di Casale di Monferrat. Divisa in quattro libri..., Venice, Enea Alaris; Brescia, Tommaso Bozzola, 1574. Gabriel Chappuys, La civile conversation divise en quatre livres, Lyon, Symphorien Béraud, 1579. George Pettie, The ciuile conuersation of M. Steeuen Guazzo, written first in Italian, and nowe translated out of French by G. Pettie, deuided into foure bookes… , London, Thomas Dawson for Richard Watkins, 1581. Reprinted as The Court of good Counsell. Wherein is set downe the true rules, how a man should choose. Goode Wife from a bad, and a woman a good Husband from a bad, London, Raph Blower for William Barley, 1607.

Lando, Ortensio, Paradossi, cioè sententie fvori del comvn parere nouellamente venute in luce. Opera non men dotta, che piaceuole, & in due parti separata,  Lyon, Jean Pullon da Trino, 1543. Charles Estienne, Paradoxes, ce sont propos contre la commune opinion…, Paris, Charles Estienne, 1553. Anthony Munday, The Defence of Contraries. Paradoxes against common opinion, debated in forme of declamations in place of publike censure: only to exercise yong wittes in difficult matters…, London, John Windet for Simon Waterson, 1593.

Lando, Ortensio, Paradossi, cioè sententie fvori del comvn parere nouallamente venute in luce. Opera non men dotta, che piacevole, & in due parti separata, Lyon, Jean Pullo de Trino, 1543. Charles Estienne, ‘Pour les femmes. Que l’excellence de la femme est plus grande que celle de l’homme’, in Paradoxes, ce sont propos contre la commune opinion…, Paris, Charles Estienne, 1553. Anthony Munday, ‘An other defence of womens vertues, written by an Honorable personage, of great reckoning in Fraunce, and therefore thought meete to be ioyned with the former discourse’, in A Womans Worth, defended against all the men in the world..., London, John Wolfe, 1599, pp. 62-71.

Tasso, Ercole and Torquato, Dell’ammogliarsi. Piaceuole contesa fra i due moderni Tassi¸ Hercole, cioè, & Torquato, Gentilhuomini Bergamaschi, Bergamo, Comin Ventura 1593. Robert Tofte, Of Marriage and Wiuing. An excellent, pleasant, and Philosophicall Controuersie, betweene the two famous Tassi now liuing, the one Hercules the Philosopher, the other, Torquato the Poet. Done into English, by R.T. Gentleman, London, Thomas Creede for John Smythicke, 1599.

Varchi, Benedetto.  Lettvra di M. Benedetto Varchi, sopra  vn sonetto della gelosia di Mons. dalla Casa: fatta nella celebratissima Academia de gl’Infiammati a Padoua, Mantua, Venturino Ruffinelli, 1545. Robert Tofte, The Blazon of Jealovsie. A Subiect not written of any heretofore.  First written in Italian by that learned gentleman Benedetto Varchi sometime Lord chancelor unto the Signorie of Venice: And Translated into English, with special Notes vpon the same, by R.T. gentleman, London, T[homas] S[nodham] for John Busbie, 1615.


[1] Full bibliographical data for these texts and their translations is found in the ‘List of Source Texts and their Translations’ following this essay, with entries under the author’s name.

[2] The title of volume one was shifted to the title-page of the work in later editions, of which there were many, some with variant spellings of Ecatomphila. Munday also consulted a Paris bilingual edition offering the Italian text with  facing French translation, the 1597 Exhortation aux Dames vertueuses ... Avec L’Hecatonphile de M. L. B. Albert. While he did borrow some words and phrases from the French, they are too few to disqualify his translation as a direct one.

[3] Matthew Steggle has discussed the work in the context of a lost English play about which it gives a clue. He does not, however, analyse it as a translation (Steggle 2016).

[4] For views on marriage inherited from Antiquity and medieval authors and subsequently adapted by the Cinquecento humanists see Anthony F. D’Elia (2004); for Cinquecento opinions on the vices and virtues of women see Francine Daenens (1983).

[5] Indirect translations can be divided into three types: ‘pure’, using only one other translation as a source; ‘supportive’, using only passages from another translation; and ‘eclectic’, using several mediating translations (Marin-Lacarta 2017: 135). Since Pettie’s translation conforms to none of these, using essentially Chappuys’s translation but providing supplementary passages from a later revised edition of Guazzo’s text (Lievesay 1961: 63), I have defined it as ‘hybrid’.

[6] A brief but useful overall review of writings on retranslation is in Tian (2017).

[7] For a discussion of the Italian and French texts, see Cagnolati (2001) and Finotti (2015).

[8] Selene Scarsi has pointed to several similarities between the two translations but wonders how Tofte could have seen Harington’s translation while in Italy (Scarsi 2010: 153). Surely, however, he could have revised his version after returning home, directing an occasional glance at Harington’s.

About the author(s)

Brenda M Hosington is Professor of Linguistics and Translation (retired) at the Université de Montréal, Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick, and Senior Research Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at University College, London. She has published widely on medieval and Renaissance translation, especially on early modern English women translators. She is the editor of the 'Renaissance Cultural Crossroads Online Catalogue of Translations in Britain 1473-1640 and co-editor of the forthcoming online 'Cultural Crosscurrents Catalogue of Printed Translations in Stuart and Commonwealth Britain 1641-1660', as well as editor of a special issue of 'Renaissance Studies' on 'Translation and Early Modern Print Culture in Europe', co-editor of a collection of essays entitled 'Thresholds of Translation: Paratexts, Print, and Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Britain (1473-1660) (2018), and co-editor of special issues on translation and print of two journals, 'Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme' and 'The Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature comparée' (forthcoming).

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©inTRAlinea & Brenda Hosington (2019).
"Transit, Translation, Transformation: The Fate of Some Italian Querelle-related Texts in Early Modern England, 1579-1615"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Transit and Translation in Early Modern Europe
Edited by: Donatella Montini, Iolanda Plescia, Anna Maria Segala and Francesca Terrenato
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