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Emerging Markets and Transnational Interactions in Translation and Epicization: the Case of Spain 1549-1569

Richard H. Armstrong

University of Houston

One of the best reasons for an integrative approach to studying classical and early modern epic is simply to have a more unified and nuanced view of cultural production. The new accessibility of many seldom-read early modern texts through digitization, the expanding bibliographical databases on formats and editions for all kinds of early modern books, and the conceptual expansion of translation studies have made new levels of integration possible.  We can now look beyond a thin-line reception of classical epic in the old Nachleben model to see a vast new array of epic production that puts the interactions of classical and early modern epic into better light. This is important not only for the purposes of understanding the place of classical learning in the target cultures of early modern Europe (e.g., the typical source text—target text focus of translation studies), but also for tracing the interrelationships between those target cultures (i.e., how emerging literary norms and textual forms cross-pollinate in modern languages) and the international book market that circulated all forms of epic throughout Europe and the New World.  We can now attempt a kind of macro-contextualization, in other words, that can be extremely helpful to spotting larger trends and opening new lines of inquiry.

            I wish to focus by way of example on twenty years of cultural production in Castilian to make this point. The years 1549-1569 are in a sense anni mirabiles for not only the production and publication of two extremely important literary translations of classical epic (Gonzalo Pérez blank verse Ulyxea and Hernández de Velasco’s Eneida), but a host of other epic translations and original compositions as well. These include translations of Italian chivalric epic (Ariosto), continuations of chivalric epic stories in new Spanish compositions, courtly epic poems on the reign of Emperor Charles V, translations of the Christian Latin epics De partu virginis and the Christias, and quite importantly, the first installment of Alonso de Ercilla’s new world epic, La Araucana.  All these epic productions have discrete lines of development, but there are important formal and economic convergences that link them in interesting ways.  The presentation will make use of some graphs and other visualizations to help point out how the epic production of these years reveals economic, political and cultural links across Europe and the New World. 

Session/Panel Title

Classical and Early Modern Epic: Comparative Approahces and New Perspectives

Session/Paper Number


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