6 Spain and Portugal Anthony Pym and John Style


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6.4. Spain and Portugal
Anthony Pym and John Style

New translations of complete books from Spain and Portugal would perhaps reach some 200 titles in the nineteenth century, if we use a narrow conception of literature (see the various partial catalogues by Hills 1920, Pane 1944, O’Brien 1963, Rudder 1975, and Sousa 1992 for Camões).1 These translations were initially motivated in part by the largely bilingual British commercial colony in Portugal, and then by the growth of travel to the Iberian Peninsula. Specific impetus, however, come from the cultural impact of the Peninsular Wars, in particular the associated influence of Robert Southey. The number of new translations then sank to a point of relative insignificance and only really revived in the 1870s, when changes in the publishing industry created a demand for popular novels, including those of Iberian naturalism. Before 1880, the average age of the texts translated was just over 200 years, and most of the translators were men. After 1890, the average age was just under 50 years, and most of the translators were women [I think many is more accurate than most – though if Hispanic translations are a special case, keep ‘most’ . Most, please. In fact 83% in our corpus, but you don’t want numbers]. Here we shall approach those very different dynamics chronologically.

Southey and the Peninsular Wars

Of the figures associated with English Romanticism, Robert Southey was by far the most receptive to Iberian cultures. His connection with the peninsula was established through his uncle and patron, the Revd Herbert Hill, chaplain of the British trading community in Lisbon (see Cabral 1959). Hill called his nephew to Lisbon in 1795, a visit reflected in Southey’s Letters Written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal. With those letters we find notes on Iberian literature and versions of poems by Quevedo, Lope de Vega, and Luis de León, among others, rendered with a Romantic freedom that receives tenuous justification: ‘I have always done justice to the originals by annexing them’ (Southey 1797: I, 3). Southey again sailed for Portugal in 1800 with the intention of collecting material to write his history of that country, returning to England in 1801 and settling in the Lake District, where his 14,000-volume library as Keswick Hall contained a collection of Portuguese and Spanish texts probably unique in England. In 1803 he published translations of poems by Camões, but his interests were soon to turn elsewhere.

Southey’s influence on English letters became explicitly political when he gave voice to those who would have Britain side with Spain against the Napoleonic regime. He engaged Wordsworth and his circle in the cause (Buceta 1923, 1924). The alliance with one of Britain’s traditional enemies was indeed made, and Portugal was brought into the coalition. The war of attrition waged by the Spanish guerrillas and the Spanish-Portuguese-British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley eventually drove the French army out of the Iberian Peninsula. The sustained military presence on Iberian soil raised awareness of contemporary Spain and Portugal, to the extent that English letters began to see the Iberian Peninsula as a part of the European landscape, worthy of greater attention. Byron visited the peninsula in 1809; both he and Shelley did some translations from Spanish. However, the project of converting a traditional enemy into a contemporary ally required more than a few literary conversions and visits. A large-scale translation project could significantly help change perception of the Iberian other.

The number of translations rose following the Peninsular Wars. It was also reinforced by a number of re-editions. Mickle’s 1776 version of Camões’ Os Lusíadas, for example, reached its seventh edition in 1807, its eighth and ninth in 1809. There was, however, a certain reductionism at work in the choice of texts. Thanks in part to the common opposition to Napoleon, British eyes were disposed to see the Spanish and Portuguese cultures as one space at a time when, as now, the cultures themselves insist quite emphatically on their differences. This conflation continued long into the nineteenth century. Very little attention was paid to Iberian languages other than Portuguese and Spanish, thus presenting an image of centralized nations, and there were relatively few translations of Iberian writers who were politically liberal and thus usually Francophile, many of them exiled in France and later in Britain. Further selective blindness grew as the very positive values projected on Portuguese and Spanish culture were contradicted by awareness of the economic and military decline of the Iberian present. The translations that responded to the Peninsular Wars were mostly of medieval or sixteenth-century texts. Indeed, the authors most translated in the nineteenth century were Cervantes, Camões and Calderón, writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, representing the age when Portugal and then Spain were still world superpowers. Indeed, some of the translation projects implicitly sought to take over the mantle of empire, as is suggested by the work of Robert Southey, both before and during the wars.

Southey turned his attention to medieval epic and romance. He translated a medieval romance as Amadis of Gaul (1803) and abridged the sixteenth-century version by Anthony Munday of Palmerin of England (1807) [I have changed this a bit, in line with bibliographies and other sources, please let me know if I have got it wrong - okay]. More influential, however, was his Chronicle of the Cid (1808), created from the medieval prose chronicle and drawing on popular ballads. Southey did not work from the fourteenth-century Poema del mío Cid, but he did present John Hookham Frere’s translations from it as an appendix, albeit not naming Frere (the translations were eventually included in Frere’s Works, 1874). There were at least seven other versions of the Cid story in the nineteenth century, but Southey’s remained the most popular and deserves some attention. Its prose is archaising, and reminiscent of the Authorized Version in rhythm, syntax and diction. This is rather an elegant solution to the problem of translating a twelfth-century text, which could not be done in twelfth-century English (Spanish has changed much less than English over the centuries). The solution was nevertheless strongly ideological. Southey placed the value of the Hispanic cultures in the medieval past, well before any conflict with British imperial interests. He sought not only ‘those heroic remembrances which are the strength and glory of a nation’ (letter to Walter Savage Landor, 19 December 1821, in Southey 1965: II, 231), but also the conversion of a distant past into a call to action. In 1808 he claimed to ‘hold up the war [against Napoleon] as a crusade on the part of us and the Spaniards (I love and vindicate the crusades)’ (letter to Grosvenor C. Bedford, November 17 1808, in 1849: III, 187). Nothing better, then, than to have the archetypal crusader sounding like an English Bible. At the same time, however, the Biblical tone is combined with the flatness of medieval narrative, producing occasional comic effects that Southey presumably did not seek:

Now it behoves that ye should know whence he came, and from what men he was descended, because we have to proceed with his history […] (1808: 2)
At this time it came to pass that there was strife between Count Don Gomez the Lord of Gormaz, and Diego Laynez the father of Rodrigo; and the Count insulted Diego and gave him a blow […] (1808: 3)
A rather different tone informs Frere’s translations from the epic poem, where we find an attempt to imitate the irregular versification of the Spanish in fairly straight diction. A later translator, John Ormsby, would regard Frere’s version as ‘bordering on vulgarity’ and ‘provoking an air of condescension’ (1879: 3, 4), as he cleared the ground for his Cid in 1879 (Ormsby made much the same critique of previous versions of Don Quixote, which he also translated). Ormsby’s Cid, mixing verse with narrative prose, selected a sanitized Romantic register that remains pedagogically serviceable. A full scholarly verse rendition of the medieval poem would not appear until the three-volume translation and critical edition by the American millionaire Archer Milton Huntington, first published in 1897-1903.

Ballads and Poetry

While Southey gave himself wholeheartedly to Spanish epic prose, which he found could be ‘exquisitely poetical’, he considered the verse ballads ‘made in general upon one receipt’ and at times ‘completely prosaical’ (letter to Walter Scott, November 6 1808, in 1849: III, 178). Despite notable collections such as Lord Strangford’s versions of Camões’ lyrics in 1803, some decades would pass before Iberian verse was consistently rendered in English verse.

In 1823 Thomas Roscoe translated Sismondi’s 4-volume Historical View of the Literature of the South of Europe, which included versions of Camões, Bernardes and da Cunha (from Portuguese) and Santillana, Hurtado de Mendoza and Villegas (from Spanish). The same year also saw the publication of J. H. Wiffen’s translations of the sixteenth-century poet Garcilaso de la Vega and, with rather more impact, John Gibson Lockhart’s Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic (1823). Based on Depping’s 1817 editions of the source texts, Lockhart’s collection includes Moorish as well as sixteenth-century ballads and passages from The Cid. All the translations are presented with a scholarly introduction, suggesting an ethnographic approach to a distant popular culture, in the spirit of the German edition of the sources. Lockhart’s verse uses consistently long lines with internal rhyme schemes, differing remarkably from the short pithy metre of the Spanish tradition. Here, for example, is Lockhart describing a ferocious bull (‘The Bull-fight of Ganzul’) (1823: 125):

Dark is his hide on either side, but the blood within doth boil,

And the dim hide glows as if on fire, as he paws to the turmoil.
His eyes are jet and they are set in crystal rings of snow;
But now they stare with one red glare of brass upon the foe.

As effective as the internal rhymes might sometimes be, they owe little to the source:

Vayo en color encendido,
Y los ojos como brasa,
Arrugada frente y cuello,
La frente vellosa y ancha.

Visually, if not on the level of content, we can see Lockhart engaging in Romantic verse, largely of his own inspiration.

Following Lockhart, John Bowring’s Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain evinces ethnographical inspiration, drawing on Moorish as well as troubadour sources in order to present a popular culture considered ‘interesting, because it is truly national’ (1824: vi). Bowring chooses shorter metres considerably closer to his sources, managing well enough to preserve the external rhyme scheme. Here are the first lines of his version of Jorge Manrique’s thirteenth-century ‘Coplas’ (‘Ode’):
Awake, awake, my sleeping soul!

Rouse from thy dreams of hope and fear

And think, and see

How soon life’s busy moments roll,

How soon the hour of death draws near, -

How silently! (1824: 235)

Lockhart and Bowring effectively opened the way for a more self-assured poetic voice. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited Spain on a study journey in 1826-9. In 1832 he published his own version of Manrique (‘Verses for his Father’s Death’), as well as sonnets by Lope de Vega and Francisco de Aldana. Longfellow’s Manrique rendition begins thus:

Oh let the soul her slumbers break

Let thought be quickened, and awake,

Awake to see

How soon this life is past and gone,

And death comes softly stealing on,

How silently! (1845: 655 I have taken the citation from the 1845 anthology – could be confusing)

Longfellow also experimented with the boundaries between translation and original creation, interestingly incorporating lines from a Spanish ballad in his poem ‘The Secret of the Sea’, which explicitly refers to Count Arnaldos. His major contribution to awareness of Iberian verse, however, is certainly The Poets and Poetry of Europe (1845). This massive anthology (on which see §1.2, above) functions rather like a grand tour of the literary continent, bringing together existing translations rather than creating new ones. The result, admits Longfellow, is ‘a collection, rather than a selection’ (p. v). The introduction to Spanish literature is remarkable in that it mentions some of the various languages of Spain (Valencian, Galician, Leonin, Catalan, Majorcan, although not Basque). Yet it is in keeping with the general focus of the day in that the actual translations are almost all from standard Spanish (Castilian) and are heavily focused on a heroic Hispanic past, having almost nothing to show for the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries (just 10 pages, out of a total of 95 [are more recent anthologies different? – well, they do allocate large spaces to Hispanic modernisms, without insisting on the heroic past]). The volume includes translations by Frere, Bowring, Byron (the Moorish ballad ‘Woe is me, Alhama’), Lockhart, Wiffen, Roscoe, Shelley (fragments from Calderón), Bryant, and others, as well as anonymous versions found in the Edinburgh Review, the Quarterly Review, Fraser’s Magazine and similar publications. Longfellow himself translates Manrique, a song by López Maldonado, and a sonetta by Vega Carpio. The Portuguese section is rather shorter (just 36 pages) and includes translations by Strangford, Roscoe, Bowring and Adamson. In all, the volume is a remarkable piece of research, selflessly presenting the translations of others.

A very different approach is found in James Kennedy’s Modern Poets and Poetry of Spain (1852). For Kennedy, Spanish poetry is not exotic or ‘Moorish’ (p. ix); it displays ‘simplicity of expression and propriety of thought’ (p. vii) of the kind that one finds, claims the translator, only in English literature (p. viii). One might thus expect a simple exercise in domestication. Full rhymes and similar metres are indeed used throughout, imposing a certain homogeneity on a ‘modern’ Spain that dates from the late eighteenth century, running from Jovellanos to Zorilla. The selection is nevertheless as interesting for its politics as it might be for its verse. Included here are the voices of Spanish exiles, particularly Francophiles like Jovellanos and Moratín, whose positions had been marginalized by the alliance against Napoleon. Kennedy’s selection emphasizes external views of Spain’s contemporary decline and its relations with Britain. We find Arriaza and Quintana writing on the Battle of Trafalgar; Martínez de la Rosa writing about Spain from London in 1811; Espronceda doing the same from London in 1829.

These voices would prove a minor counterweight to the heroic historical Iberia. From Portuguese, one also notes Edgar Prestage’s 1894 translation of Antero de Quental’s sonnets of 1881, possibly carried out on a suggestion from Richard Burton. For the rest, the most translated writers were Cervantes, Camões and Calderón, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


The English nineteenth century saw full versions of Don Quijote by Mary Smirke (1818), Alexander James Duffield (1881), John Ormsby (1885) and Henry Edward Watts (1888), as well as numerous anonymous renderings and revisions or reeditions of previous translations. Smirke is mentioned only as the ‘editor’ of a translation ostensibly pieced together from previous versions, yet the selection reads well as a new version. First published in a luxurious edition to accompany her husband’s illustrations to the text, the translation ran to seventeen editions and actually outlived her husband’s illustrations (an 1877 revision has fifty plates by Sir John Gilbert). Alexander J. Duffield’s translation was published at the expense of the translator and was accompanied by a book on Quixote criticism. The translation was reviewed by an anonymous contemporary as ‘pretentious, uncouth, ungrammatical, and weighed down with obsolete words’ (1885: 267); it had no second edition. John Ormsby’s version, which the same review praised as having precisely the opposite values, remains philologically sound and ran to ten editions. Watts’s scholarly annotated translation appeared in a restricted edition in 1888 ‘intended for a limited circle of students and lovers of Cervantes’ and was republished in a smaller format in 1895, complete with index and maps. All these versions nevertheless proved less popular than the previous translations by Jarvis (1742, with seventy-nine editions in the nineteenth century, including revisions) and Smollett (1755, with twenty).

This preference for the earlier translations might be attributed to the ageing of Cervantes’ text, which was becoming a classic (and being reappraised as such in Spain) at the same time as its comic variants were entering popular culture. Pane (1944: 72) lists some ten ‘unidentified’ nineteenth-century translations in addition to those we have mentioned, then gives a long list of adaptations like The Spirit of Cervantes, or Don Quixote Abridged (1820), Stories and Chapters from Don Quixote, versified (c. 1830) or The Story of the Don, Rewritten for our Young Folks (1870). Such popular renderings of the text might be associated with the energy of Shelton’s 1612 version, or more especially with the confidence of Motteux or Smollett in the eighteenth century, who did not flinch from a little bawdiness or popular language. The nineteenth-century translators, however, showed considerable reluctance to adopt a contemporary voice. If the text was a classic, it was not to be confused with the comedy of popular adaptations. The narrative voice thus had to be situated firmly in the past. The contact with popular culture was not the only aspect of the text that suffered as a consequence.

. The language spoken by Don Quixote should be that of the romances he has been reading, and thus of an age earlier than the narrator. To attribute archaic language to the narrator is thus to risk losing the fundamental distinction between narrator and hero. However, to make the narrator speak contemporary language would mean compromising the work’s classical status. How this problem was handled can be seen in the ‘Author’s Preface’, where the Spanish has the author speak to the reader in the intimate second person , while a discussion between the author and a literary friend is in the formal second person vos. Most versions done in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries render this as thou (informal) as opposed to you (formal); all those of the twentieth century lose this distinction by using you throughout (since thou is now archaic rather than informal). At which point did this transition occur? The use of you throughout (i.e. an informal you) can actually be found in eighteenth-century versions by Motteux/Ozell (1762) and Kelly (1769). But the new versions of the nineteenth century generally resisted the transition:

Smirke (1818) READER, thou wilt believe me, I trust, without an oath

Jarvis (1809, 1824) You may believe me, without an oath, gentle reader

Jarvis/Clark (1864-67) You may depend upon my bare word, reader, without any farther security

Jarvis/Johannot (1870) Loving reader, thou wilt believe me, I trust, without an oath

Ormsby (1885) IDLE READER: thou mayest believe me without any oath

Watts (1888) IDLE READER; though canst believe me without an oath
Smirke, Ormsby and Watts all prefer the archaic thou, which by this stage was expressing anything but an intimate relation with the reader. They accorded the text the decorum deemed appropriate for a world classic. On the other hand, we find revisions of the seventeenth-century Jarvis version straddling the divide (one with you, the other with thou), and a more extensive revision, by J. W. Clark for a popular version sold in parts in 1864-67, also with you. Note also the problematic renderings of Cervantes’ naming of the reader as desocupado (un-busy): ‘idle reader’ is slightly humorous but possibly a little insulting for a classic of world literature. Ormsby and Watts nevertheless risk the humour, placing philological literalism above consistency in the narrative voice.

Cervantes’ theatre was far less translated than his Quijote. One notes Persiles and Segismunda rendered by Louise Dorothea Stanley in 1856, Galatea by G.W.J. Gyll in 1867, Numantia and The Commerce of Algiers by Gyll in 1870, and Numantia by James Y. Gibson, ‘Magistrate in Zululand’, in 1885. The last-mentioned play, about the heroic defence of a Spanish town under siege, lent itself to a certain imperial parallelism. Gibson’s 1885 translation is in heroic verse, in full archaic battle-dress (‘In very sooth...’), and related most tenuously to the valour of British imperialism: ‘we have ventured to link the name of Gordon with that of Cervantes [since] this Quixotism, what is it but the sublime of imprudence’ (Gibson 1885: xvii). Similar heroism is to be found in Gibson’s work on the Cid ballads (1887). Indeed, the strategy of imperial parallelism might be traced back to Southey’s manipulation of the Spanish crusades; a comparable case is that of the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões.


Camões’ epic poem Os Lusíadas (1592) sings the heroism of Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese colonies in India. The text most clearly served the British tendency to place Iberian virtues in the distant past. That is no doubt why there were re-editions of Mickle’s translation in the years of the Peninsular Wars. There were also significant new translations throughout the century.

In a systematic comparison of these translations, Ramos and Lousada (1992) reveal shifts of various kinds. The earlier versions tended to highlight commercial aspects and the racial superiority of Europe. Following Fanshawe’s initial translation in 1655, Mickle’s long-lived version in rhyming verse, first published in 1776, appealed to the principle that ‘None but a Poet can translate a Poet’ in order to justify significant changes to the poem. Frequent omissions and amplifications focus on exotic details and eroticism, in constant capital letters. This was the vision of heroic Portugal that was to serve the period of the Peninsular Wars. Thomas Moore Musgrave, on the other hand, translating in 1826, chose blank verse and omitted licentious details. His version was followed in 1853 by Edward Quillinan’s translation in ottava rima, published posthumously with notes by the scholar and translator John Adamson. The following year, in 1854, Sir T. L. Mitchell published a closer literal version, albeit toning down erotic details and using the occasional Gallicism or archaism in order to give the text an erudite tone. In 1878 John James Aubertin was the first translator to have his version published alongside an edition of the original. His translation follows the original closely, imitating the syntactic inversions of the Portuguese. In 1880, marking the third centenary of Camões’ death, Robert ffrench Duff’s version of Os Lusíadas sought exactitude by using prosodic expansion, adding a ninth line to the ottava rima) for the purposes of highlighting detail. Quite a different intention was at work, however, in Richard Francis Burton’s rendition, also of 1880, where numerous archaisms and the workings of alliteration and rhyme are used to amplify not only heroism but also the highly lyrical moments:

Thou, only thou, pure Love, whose cruel might

obligeth human hearts to weal and woe,

thou, only thou, didst wreak such foul despight (III, 119, 1-3)[what do the figures refer to? Book, section, verses]
These same devices mark Burton’s versions of Camões’ lyric poetry, published in 1884 and by far the most complete translation in the nineteenth century. This is not to say Camões’ verse had been entirely overlooked: Lord Strangford translated some 37 poems in 1803, Aubertin rendered seventy sonnets in 1881, Garnett gave a further selection of sonnets in 1896, and the numerous translators of smaller selections were often those who worked on Os Lusíadas or translated from Spanish as well: Southey, Adamson, Bowring (two poems in his Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain), Roscoe, Quillinan, Lady Wilde and Duff (for a detailed bibliography of these and more, see Igreja 1992). Although Burton and Aubertin stayed relatively close to Camões, many of the earlier translators were engaged in the business of Romantic recreation, highlighting the lyricism of Camões as a love-torn poet.

As that particularly Romantic reading of Camões’ verse waned, there were corresponding changes in renditions of his epic. Ramos and Lousada (1992: 45ff.) find that the earlier translations of Os Lusíadas (Fanshawe, Mickle and Musgrave) highlight the heroic role of the individual hero, Vasco da Gama. From the mid-nineteenth century, however, the renditions tended to emphasise the heroic role of the Portuguese people. Ramos and Lousada cite the following renditions of the line ‘Que eu canto o peito ilustre Lusitano’ (I, 3, 5), literally ‘That I sing the illustrious Lusitanian breast’. The variations show a shift of narrative focus:

Fanshawe (1655) For to a Man recorded in this Peece

Mickle (1776) A nobler Hero’s deeds demand my lays […]

Illustrious GAMA, whom the waves obey’d

Musgrave (1826) I sing th’illustrious Lusitanian Chief

Quillinan (1853) I sing the illustrious Lusian heart so bold

Mitchell (1854) I sing the illustrious valour Lusitanian

Aubertin (1878) I sing a daring Lusitanian name

Burton (1880) The noble Lusian’s stouter breast sing I

Duff (1880) I will chant the praise / of Lusian chiefs

Hewitt (1883) Since I rehearse the noble Lusian breast

These few lines also illustrate a growing tendency to stay closer to the words in the source. At the same time, an archaizing translationese persists right through to the end of the nineteenth century. This was certainly a marked strategy in Burton’s renditions, in keeping with the kind of classicization we have noted in versions of Don Quijote.

The translators of Camões (studied by Ferreira 1992) included remarkably few people entirely operating within English-speaking countries. Musgrave was in Lisbon in 1819-1820 as an agent for a shipping company. Richard Harris was a member of the British community in Porto and published his translations in the community’s journal The Lusitanian. Quillinan was brought up in the Porto colony and fought in the Peninsular Wars. Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell fought in the Peninsular Wars then went to Australia, translating Camões during a return voyage. Aubertin was a railway engineer who had worked in Brazil before living in Portugal for several years; the second edition of his bilingual Lusiads was dedicated to Luís I of Portugal and was well received by the Portuguese critics. Robert Ffrench Duff, from an English family that had resided in Portugal for many generations, was responsible for a paper factory, only turning to translation when approaching his seventieth year. His version of The Lusiads (1880) was dedicated to King Fernando II of Portugal and printed at the National Printing Office in Lisbon. Of James Edwin Hewitt we know little except that he moved: he published one translated canto of Os Lusíadas in Lisbon in 1881, then the first two cantos in Rio de Janeiro in 1883, ‘with a letter from the great American poet, Henry W. Longfellow’. Considerably more mobile, Burton probably started translating The Lusiads while in Goa in 1846, although he completed much of his version during his time as British Consul in Brazil. In the preface he states that one of his principal qualifications for the task is his itinerant status: ‘None but a traveller can do justice to a traveller’ (1880: ix). The phrase might clearly apply to a good many other translators as well. Burton, however, was paraphrasing the more traditional precept Mickle had used when prefacing his 1776 version of Camões: ‘None but a Poet can translate a Poet’. Both traveller and poet presumed to occupy much the same intercultural space.


The seventeenth-century Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca has long held a stronger position in world literature than might be believed from his translations into English. Notwithstanding interest by poets of the order of Shelley, whose scenes from El mágico prodigioso (‘The Mighty Magician’) were published posthumously in 1824, Calderón’s presence in the English nineteenth century is limited (though stronger than that of Lope de Vega for instance). A melodrama is noted as having been translated by Fanny Holcroft in the Theatrical Recorder of 1805, a small anonymous version of La vida es sueño (‘Life is a Dream’) is mentioned as being published in Edinburgh in 1830, and John Oxenford’s blank-verse translation from the same play appeared the Monthly Magazine in 1842, but book-length translations of Calderón would come only in the second half of the century.

The two-volume collection by the barrister Denis Florence McCarthy (1853) advertises itself as ‘principally in the metre of the original’, retains effective rhyme schemes, uses archaic diction (‘thee’ and ‘doth’), and sails close to the wind of Romantic excess. The translations are nevertheless accompanied by extensive notes and introductions. Richard Chenevix Trench published versions of two Calderón plays in 1856 (claiming they had remained unpublished for eighteen years). Most of his rendition is prose narrative interspersed with fragments in rhymed verse, clearly as a pedagogical introduction to Calderón more than anything that could be staged. On the other hand, Edward FitzGerald’s versions of 1853 are presented as ‘freely translated’, arguing that ‘an exact translation would be bombastic’ (p. vi). FitzGerald’s translations are mostly melodrama in unrhymed verse and contemporary diction, curiously accompanied by an apology: Fitzgerald points out that he has not touched any of Calderón’s ‘famous plays’ (p. v). This defence was later contradicted when the same translator published versions of two of Calderón’s better-known plays in 1865). In his preface to El mágico prodigioso (‘The Mighty Magician’), Fitzgerald nevertheless notes that this translation is ‘not for acting’ (1865: 67). The verse is indeed closer to Calderón, with effective rhyme schemes and contemporary diction (no ‘thou’s). Here is Cyprian’s opening speech:

This is the place, this the sequester’d spot

Where, in the flower about and leaf above,

I find the shade and quiet that I love,

And oft resort to rest a wearied wing;

And here, good lads, leave me alone, but not

Lonely, companion’d with the books you bring. (1865: 3)

Compare with Shelley’s earlier version:
In the sweet solitude of this calm place,

This intricate wild wilderness of trees

And flowers and undergrowth of odorous plants,

Leave me; the books you bought out of the house

To me are ever best society. (1824: 363)
Shelley’s greater economy is instructive. As Norman MacColl later observed in his edition of Calderón’s Spanish texts (1888), both FitzGerald and McCarthy struggled against not just different systems of versification, but also the grandiloquence of Calderón, which often sounds bombastic in English. On the other hand, notes MacColl, other parts of Calderón are extremely simple and appear unacceptably bald in English. Shelley, at least, took the liberty of editing out both extremes.


The dominance of translations from a distant Iberian past was only really broken with the advent of European naturalism in the novel and the theatre. Iberian naturalism built on costumbrista traditions, absorbing the international movement led by Zola into a moment of national soul searching. This provided exotic colour for the growing lending libraries in industrialized countries, which were generating new demands for literature. English-language publishers found continental novels in translation to be the most economical way of meeting that demand (see Tebbel 1975). Among the novelists whose works were taken up in the 1880s and 1890s were Galdós, Valdés, Echegaray and Pardo Bazán from Spanish, and Eça de Queirós and Júlio Dinis (pseudonym of Joaquim Gomes Coelho) from Portuguese. Many of these translations were first published in the United States, whereas in the previous decades American editions had usually followed or coincided with publication in Britain.

This new translation regime was marked by relatively short time-gaps between the sources and the translations. There were also changes in the cultural identity of translators. As the publishing houses became the main drive behind the importation of literature, translators tended to lose much of their independence and personal input, assuming an industrial status well removed from the gentlemanly amateur work of previous generations. Many translators of novels were women, as were quite possibly most of their readers. The language of translations, especially dialogue, was brought closer to vernacular norms, and text length could be adjusted to meet publishers’ specifications.

The most prolific translator of the last decade of the century was perhaps the American Mary Jane Serrano. Between 1889 and 1900 she translated some thirteen novels from Portuguese and Spanish (Eça de Queirós, Pardo Bazán, Alarcón, Galdós, Valera), in addition to work from French (see Hartman 1999 [Page ref? The whole article is on this]). Produced at an industrial rate (seven of her translated novels are listed as being published in 1891 alone), Serrano’s translations are generally straight renditions, retaining some Spanish proverbs but simplifying details and side-stepping many fast balls, sometimes out of visible haste. For example, in her version of Alarcón’s story ‘Moors and Christians’ (1891b), she uses the term as ‘Moorish’ to render both ‘moro’ (Muslim) and ‘morisco’ (a Muslim baptized under Christian rule), which leads her to speak of a Moorish town that had previously been Moorish. Comparing Serrano’s American version of Galdós’s Doña Perfecta with a previous translation by an acronymous ‘D.P.W.’ published n London in 1880, we find the American translator refusing traces of Spanish (‘Uncle Licargo’ and ‘gentleman’ instead of D.P.W.’s ‘Tio Licurgas’ and ‘señorito’), economizing on details (‘beasts’ instead of ‘saddle horses’), and editing out foreign expressions (‘terribly cold’ instead of ‘cold enough for three thousand devils’). On the other hand, in Serrano’s version of Emilia Pardo Bazán’s Morriña (‘Homesickness’) we find occasional strains of a New York Jewish mother in a Spanish setting: ‘Ah, there comes old Contreras already’ (1891a: 5), indicating both calque from the Spanish and possible colour from the translator’s specific location. Serrano nevertheless claimed that a translator should be ‘absolutely selfless, content to live a reflected intellectual life’ (1897: 168). That was a position that few translators before 1880 would have taken, given their personal engagement with the source cultures. Serrano’s deliberate abnegation might be seen as reflecting the growing professionalism of translators towards the close of the century (see §3.1, above).



Aubertin, J. J. (1878). Os Lusíadas de Luiz de Camões. The Lusiads of Camoens, 2 vols. London.

-- (1881). Seventy Sonnets of Camoens. London.

Bowring, John (1824). Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain. London

Burton, Richard Francis (1880). Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), ed. Isabel Burton. London.

-- (1884). Camoens. The Lyricks: Sonnets, Canzons, Odes and Sextines. London.

Clark, J. W., ed (1864-67). The History of Don Quixote. London (rev. of Jarvis’s translation).

Duff, Robert ffrench (1880). The Lusiad of Camoens, Translated into English Spenserian Verse. Lisbon.

Duffield, A. J. (1881). The Ingenious Knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha, 3 vols. London.

FitzGerald, Edward (1853). Six Dramas of Calderon. London.

-- (1865). The Mighty Magician; Such Stuff as Dreams are Made of [Calderón]. Bungay

Garnett, R, (1896). Dante, Petrarch, Camoens. CXXIV Sonnets. London.

Gibson, J. Y. (1885). Numantia. A Tragedy [Cervantes]. London.

Hewitt, J. E. (1883). The First Canto of the Lusiad [Camões]. Rio de Janeiro.

Huntington, Archer M. (1897-1903). Poem of the Cid, 3 vols. New York.

Kennedy, James (1852). Modern Poets and Poetry of Spain. London.

Lockhart, J. G. (1823). Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic. Edinburgh.

Longfellow, H. W. (1845). The Poets and Poetry of Europe. Philadelphia (later augmented edns).

McCarthy, Denis Florence (1853). Dramas of Calderon. Tragic, Comic, and Legendary, 2 vols. London.

Prestage, E. (1894). Sixty-four sonnets [Quental]. London.

Mickle, William Julius (1776). The Lusiad; or, The Discovery of India. An Epic Poem [Camões]. Oxford (many reprints after 1790).

Mitchell, Sir T. L. (1854). The Lusiad of Luis de Camoens, Closely Translated. London.

Musgrave, Thomas Moore (1826). The Lusiad. An Epic Poem [Camões]. London.

Ormsby, John (1879). The Poem of the Cid. London.

-- (1885). The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, 4 vols. London.

Quillinan, Edward (1853). The Lusiad of Luis de Camoens. Books I to V. London.

Serrano, Mary J. (1891a). Morriña (Homesickness) [Pardo Bazán]. New York.

-- (1891b). Moors and Christians and Other Tales [Alarcón]. New York.

--- (1896). Doña Perfecta [Galdós]. New York

Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1824). Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. London.[replace by modern edition. A facsimile edition was published in Oxford in 1991]

[Smirke, Mary] (1818) Don Quixote de la Mancha. London.

Southey, Robert (1797). Letters Written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, with Some Account of Spanish and Portuguese Poetry, 2 vols. Bristol.

-- (1808). The Chronicle of the Cid. London (contains Frere’s verse translation).

Strangford, Viscount (1803). Poems from the Portuguese of Luis de Camoens. London.

Trench, R. C. (1856). Life’s a Dream; The Great Theatre of the World. London.

W., D. P. (1880). Doña Perfecta. A Tale of Modern Spain [Galdós]. London.

Watts, H. E. (1888). The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, 5 vols. London.

Wiffen J. H. (1823). The Works of Garcilasso de la Vega. London.

Anon. (1885). ‘Ormsby’s Don Quixote.’ Atlantic Monthly 56: 265-9.

Buceta, Erasmo. (1923). ‘El entusiasmo por España en algunos románticos ingleses.’ Revista de Filología Española 10: 1-25.

--- (1924). ‘Traducciones inglesas de romances en el primer tercio del siglo XIX. Nota acerca de la difusión del hispanismo en la Gran Bretaña y en los Estados Unidos.’ Revue hispanique 52: 459-555.

Cabral, Adolfo de Oliveira (1959). Southey e Portugal 1774-1801: Aspectos de uma biografia literaria. Lisbon.

Ferreira, Isabel Simões de (1992). ‘Apontamento biográfico aos tradutores de Os Lusíadas’, pp. 69-74 in M. L. Machado de Sousa, ed., Camões em Inglaterra. Lisbon.

Hartman, Kabi. (1999). ‘Ideology, Identification and the Construction of the Feminine in Le Journal de Marie Bashkirtseff.’ The Translator 5: 61-82.

Hills, Elijah Clarence (1920). ‘English Translations of Spanish Plays.’ Hispania 3: 97-108.

Igreja, Maria Eugénia (1992). ‘A lírica de Camões em língua inglesa’, pp.101-27 in M. L. Machado de Sousa, ed., Camões em Inglaterra. Lisbon.

O’Brien, Robert. (1963). Spanish Plays in English Translation: An Annotated Bibliography. New York.

Pane, Remigio Ugo (1944). English Translations from the Spanish 1484-1943: A Bibliography. New Brunswick, NJ.

Ramos, Iolanda Freitas, and Lousada, Isabel Cruz (1992). ‘Traduções de Os Lusíadas em Inglaterra’, pp. 13-67 in M. L. Machado de Sousa, ed., Camões em Inglaterra. Lisbon.

Rudder, Robert S. (1975). The Literature of Spain in English Translation. A Bibliography. New York.

Serrano, Mary Jane (1897). ‘A Plea for the Translator,’ The Critic (25 September), pp. 167-8.

Sousa, Maria Leonor Machado de, ed. (1992). Camões em Inglaterra. Lisbon.

Southey, Robert (1849). The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, ed. C. C. Southey, 6 vols. London.

-- (1965). New Letters of Robert Southey, ed. Kenneth Curry, 2 vols. New York.

Tebbel, John (1975). A History of Book Publishing in the United States, Vol. 2: The Expansion of an Industry, 1865-1919. New York.

1 This section is essentially concerned with literature in the narrow sense (‘imaginative literature’). There were naturally many more translations which were literary in the broad sense used in Chapter 4, above (religious and political writings, history, etc.).


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