Practising translation in Renaissance France : the example of Étienne Dolet


Practising translation in Renaissance France : the example of Étienne Dolet

Valerie Worth

(Oxford modern languages and literature monographs)

Clarendon Press , Oxford University Press, 1988

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Bibliography: p. [227]-237

Includes index



Translation was one important aspect of the concept of "imitatio" - the imitation of classical models - which dominated the literary scene in the Renaissance. This is the first study of the practice, as opposed to the theory, of translation among French writers of that period and takes as its exemplar the humanist scholar and publisher Etienne Dolet (1509-46). Author of the first theoretical treatise on the subject, Dolet also undertook many translations himself, the last of which, the pseudo-Platonic "Axiochus", was used against him as evidence of heterodox thought. Dolet's death at the stake is a reminder that translation could be a dangerous occupation; in demonstrating its relation to the intellectual and political controversies of the time, the study also aims to present a significant contribution to 16th century French studies.


  • Introduction: the rise of translation - predecessors and contempories of Dolet - French translations of Cicero in the first half of the sixteenth century - Mathurin Cordier, Guillaume Michel de Tours, Barthelemy Aneau, Jean Collin, Antoine Macault, Claude de Cuzzy
  • the translation of neo-Latin texts - the translation of historic prose narrative and the translation of neo-Latin poetry. Part 2 Models and motives: a late convert - the transition from neo-Latin to the vernacular - the Ciceronian militant, the publisher and translator
  • at the service of the "lecteur Muny de Bon Vouloir" and posterity - the translations of Dolet's own neo-Latin poetry, the translations of Cicero, the pseudo-Platonic translations. Part 3 The mechanics of translation: aspects of grammar
  • lexical choice
  • "res et verba" - substance and context - the "gestes" - the transition to a prose chronicle, contextual adaptations in the "Epistres Familiaires", contextual adaptations in the "Questions Tusculanes"
  • "verba et res" - figurative language and tropes.

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