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87 THOMAS HARDY'S CORRESPONDENCE WITH GERMAN TRANSLATORS By Carl Zlegler (Indiana University) The literary reputation an author may enjoy in his homeland does not necessarily assure him of popularity in a foreign country. Thomas Hardy's German reception Is a case In point. During Hardy's lifetime, two novels and eight short stories were translated into German. Since 1928, three additional novels, one short story, and fourteen poems have been made available to German readers.1 It is a curious fact that Die Rttckkehr (The Return of the Native) is the only German translation of a Hardy novel which Is currently In print.2 There is, of course, no single explanation for this limited reception and it is not my purpose to analyze the political, social, and literary currents In England and Germany which may have contributed to limiting Hardy's popularity. I rather wish to examine Hardy's personal correspondence In an effort to determine whether Hardy was in part responsible for his literary reputation in Germany. The Hardy Room of the Dorset County Museum In Dorchester, England contains twenty-one letters from nineteen Germans who asked for permission to translate at least one novel. On the basis of Hardy's notes In the margins of these letters, we can assume with some certainty that Hardy answered and approved only seven requests.3 The first letter Hardy received from a German was dated February 25, 1876. W. Lange^ of Berlin assured Hardy that he had translated many English works -among them the best short stories of Bret Harte - and asked for permission to translate Far From the Madding Crowd. Lange apparently did not realize that Hardy was not well-versed In German and would have difficulty reading German script. Hardy apparently Ignored this letter. In any event, Mr. Lange did not translate Far From the Madding Crowd. On November 8, 1880, Hardy gave Paul Jttngllng his consent to introduce him to German readers with The Trumpet-Major. Although Jttngllng was willing to bind himself to the publication date of May 1, 1882, he apparently questioned the literary merit of The TrumpetMajor . In Jttngllng's second letter to Hardy, December 10, 1880 the only letter of his in the Dorset County Museum - It becomes apparent that the prospective translator of The Trumpet-Major had not yet read the novel and wonders if he made a poor choice: "As soon as I have read the novel pThe Tranpet-Major]. I will let you know whether I think this, your new work, or Far From the Madding Crowd better adapted to Introduce you to the German publlcT" In closing, however, Jttngllng expresses confidence that Hardy's works will be as successful in Germany as in England. Whatever the reason may have been, Jttngllng never published a translation of either The Trumpet-Major or Far From the Madding Crowd, Arthur Rorihl,5 the German translator of Mme. Oulda and M. Cralntln, displayed his incompetence as a translator in his letter of May 27, 1883: 88 With the present lines I beg to entreat you to authorize me for translating your forthcoming novel "Two on a Tower" into the German language or give me your promise not to sell the said rights to another of Germany, in return of which I engage myself to leave you the half of translations - honorary, I will [be] able to obtain, as soon as I will need and ask you the authorization in one form: (which to have at the Cultur-Kinlsterium. In spite of this exhibition, Hardy's writing on the reverse side of the letter reveals that he authorized the translation "on the condition that the story be published within a year after September 12, 1883." Ronhl never tranlated Two on a Tower. On January 28, 1884, Mary Marshall inquired whether and under what conditions Hardy would allow her to translate A Pair of Blue Eyes. , Far From the Madding Crowd. The Hand of Ethelberta, and A Laodicean. Hardy did not reply. Miss Karshall wrote Hardy a second time, on March 14, 1884, and reiterated her questions. This time Hardy answered and granted his permission on condition that he receive five pounds for each novel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 87-94
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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