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French Renaissance Texts in Translation (FRTT)

Editor
Phillip John Usher, Barnard College, Columbia University

The French Renaissance Texts in Translation (FRTT) series, edited by Phillip John Usher for AMS Press (New York) came into official existence, quite simply, to publish quality English translations of Renaissance French texts (c.1480-c.1610) that are also scholarly editions.

Each volume will include a generously annotated translation, preceded by a significant introduction aimed at an Anglophone audience (approx. 30-60 pages), and followed by an up-to-date bibliography. In addition to dealing with scholarly matters of interest to specialists, the notes will make the texts accessible to a wide audience, including undergraduates.

This book series is long overdue and aims to meet various needs. The primary justification for the series is straightforward: many of the period’s most important texts have simply never been translated. Despite their canonical status, only selections of Joachim du Bellay and Pierre de Ronsard are available in English. The same could be said for many others (Clément Marot, Etienne Jodelle, Hélisenne de Crenne, André Thevet, etc.). Although certain works of Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas and Robert Garnier were translated in the sixteenth century, no modern translators have completed the task. And as the canon of sixteenth-century French literature widens and diversifies in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, this trend has not been matched by similar efforts to make those texts available to an Anglophone readership, seriously limiting the extent to which scholarship on the French Renaissance can hope to find a wider audience, either within or beyond the academy. Moreover, critical attention focused on the French Renaissance continues to reveal just how vital this period is for understanding modernity and for making sense of genealogies of modern concepts such as sexuality, otherness, and national identity—and while much of this scholarship is in English, many of the primary texts are still unavailable to students, scholars, teachers, and the general reader. The present series, then, aims to fill these various gaps, to contribute to the dissemination of primary texts, and to help open up a wider public for scholarship in the field.

The series editor is responsible for selecting which titles will be published. No specific editorial line is to be set. It is hoped, rather, that the series will reflect the vitality and diversity of scholarly pursuits in the field and thus that it will include both canonical literary texts, lesser-known works, as well as texts that some might classify as non-literary or para-literary (travel narratives, treatises of various kinds, discours, etc.). The main criterion is that any given title must be ‘important’ (i.e. historically, aesthetically, politically, theoretically, etc.). Several audiences are to be served, from the undergraduate to specialists in different branches of the Humanities.

An editorial board, made up of leading scholars in the field of Renaissance Studies, will suggest titles for translation and participate in the peer-review process both directly and by suggesting qualified readers. Additionally, translators are encouraged to suggest possible reviewers who know the source text well and who would be likely to provide constructive feedback.




Forthcoming Titles

Artus Thomas, sieur d’Embry, L’isle des hermaphrodites, nouvellement découverte (The Island of Hermaphrodites, Newly Discovered) . Translation, with introduction and notes, Kathleen Long (Cornell University)

Printed in 1605 and reprinted repeatedly in the early eighteenth century, L’Isle des Hermaphrodites, nouvellement découverte (The Island of Hermaphrodites, Newly Discovered), attributed to one Thomas Artus, Sieur d’Embry, is an outrageously funny and dystopian take on popular travel narratives of the period. This little guide-book systematically unravels all of the rules of French society, from laws to table manners. Often read as a satire of the court of Henri de Valois and its style-conscious and hyper-violent mignons, the royal favorites, this novel is a critique of the monarchy and of all institutions, and offers, well before Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes, a detailed ethnographic view of France and the French.

Robert Garnier, Antigone, ou la Pieté (Antigone, or Piety). Translation, with introduction and notes, Phillip John Usher (Barnard College, Columbia University)

This volume offers the first English translation of Antigone, or Piety, a play by France’s first career tragedian, Robert Garnier. Based not just on Sophocles’ Greek original, but also on works by Seneca and Statius, Antigone offers an extended presentation of the political crisis faced by the family of Oedipus and by Thebes. Containing four suicides and six deaths, the play is bloody, violent, soaked in despair. And yet, with its particular emphasis on the power of female voices in times of conflict—those of Antigone and especially of her mother Jocasta—Garnier’s tragedy is also a resounding call for an end to war: “My child, may your tensed hand re-house that odious sword in its sheath,” says Jocasta. Lamenting the horror of civil war and calling for peace, drawing on the modes and vocabulary of Ancient tragedy while simultaneously alluding constantly to the tropes and tones of Early Modern French politics, this play resonates with the ongoing Wars of Religion that ravaged France between 1562 and 1598. Although several other of Garnier’s plays were translated into English by contemporaries of Shakespeare and although many of Garnier’s best verses were quite simply stolen by Corneille and Racine, Garnier is not particularly well known in the Anglophone world—this new translation, complete with extensive notes and an introduction, makes this important and compelling voice available to students and scholars alike.

Agrippa d’Aubigné,, Les Tragiques. Translation, with introduction and notes, Valerie Worth (Oxford University)



Proposals are sought for French Renaissance Texts in Translation (FRTT)

Proposals are sought for French Renaissance Texts in Translation (FRTT). Priority will likely be given to works that have not been previously translated. Each title will be published as a full scholarly edition (with French text, English translation, scholarly apparatus).

If you are interested in suggesting a possible project for the series, please contact Phillip John Usher (pusher@post.harvard.edu), with the following:

  • Title to be translated
  • A paragraph explaining why the text might be suitable for translation, including thoughts on how the translation relates to current concerns/trends in pertinent fields, what editions in French or English already exist, etc.
  • CV and any pertinent information about experience in text editing/translation
AMS Press is an established academic press located in New York City, with a long history of producing quality volumes for the academic market. Monograph series include Studies in the Renaissance, Studies in the Emblem and The Hamlet Collection. AMS also publishes a number of annual volumes, including Spenser Studies and Emblematica: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Emblem Studies. Link: AMS Press Website: http://www.amspressinc.com/


Yea but my olde fellow Nolano tolde me, and taught publikely,
that from translation all Science had it's of-spring.

—Florio, translator of the Essays.