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Dante’s Hell in Middle French: Between Respect for the Source and Ambitions of the Translator

Véréna Stockebrand    Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgique    



This paper focuses on the most ancient French translation of Dante’s Inferno known to this day (Torino, BNU, L.III.17). More specifically, this article studies the first six cantos. The translation is analysed with consideration to three aspects. Firstly, it is compared to the contemporaneous translations to Middle French, between the 15th and 16th centuries, with a focus on methods, conceptualisation of translation, and translators’ goals. Secondly, the Enfer is studied as a translation of Dante’s work by describing the translator’s strategies towards their source. Several linguistic elements are thus discussed, which manifest a will to remain true to the original work, nuanced by some translating mechanisms that show the opposite behaviour. Thirdly, the translation is studied as a literary object per se, through an analysis of stylistic elements that the translator kept or introduced. These three aspects allow a global judgment of the text and highlight its qualities, which will need to be extended to the whole Enfer.

April 29, 2022
Dec. 15, 2021
Nov. 16, 2021

Keywords: Medieval translationDante’s reception in FranceMiddle FrenchInfernoDante’s Commedia

Copyright: © 2022 Véréna Stockebrand. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.