An Analysis of Octave Ségur’s Translation of Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (1801) into French
The Anglo-Irish author Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) became very famous in Britain at the turn of the nineteenth century thanks to her pedagogical works, regionalist and feminocentric novels, whose translations were eagerly awaited on the Continent. This paper analyses a hitherto totally unexplored field of research within Edgeworth studies: the French translation of Edgeworth’s most important English society novel, Belinda (1801), from the point of view of gender and translation studies. For this purpose, we will take into account the particular context of the work, its main features in English and French, and the particular procedures adopted by the French translator to transform Edgeworth’s tale into moral fiction for women. Octave-Henri Gabriel, comte de Ségur, adapts Belinda to the taste of French readers by sacrificing both the macrostructural and microstructural features of the source text. Despite the success of the book in France, Bélinde (1802) is not comparable to the author’s original idea, as the textual history of Belinda reveals. Edgeworth’s book deals with controversial issues at that time and features her most memorable female character, which is distorted in the French text. Ultimately, this paper confirms that the publication of Ségur’s translation has consequences on the transmission of Edgeworth’s oeuvre in other European literatures and on her image as a feminist writer.
Maria Edgeworth; Belinda; Translation studies; Gender studies; Anglo-Irish literature