Pseudotranslations are an interesting occurrence within literature and represent a particular problem for literary and translation studies- as original works that present themselves as, and thus perform as, translations, they have been often relegated to a secondary position in both fields- neither fully original works, nor able to be examined as traditional translations. Their peculiar prevalence within romantic literature- both as so-called ‘secondary’ or ‘liminal’ texts within periodicals, and as so-called ‘canonical’ texts, such as the Ossian poems- represents a rich area of examination in terms of translation studies and media theory, as they are particularly revealing of the self-conscious performativity of many cultural movements within their target audience.
With the support of my supervisor, Professor Brecht de Groote, I intend to fully interrogate the importance of the pseudo-translation within European Romanticism- focusing first upon the philosophies of translation and language amongst the German Romantics, which were then self-consciously imported into Britain through periodical writing. Pseudotranslation casts an important perspective upon this mediation- especially within Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus which will act as a test-case or model for my future analysis of pseudotranslations in Romantic literature. As a pseudo-translation of a fictional German transcendental philosopher published within a periodical, Sartor Resartus enacts a unique ironic performativity- both in its performance of Romantic language, in its performance as a translation, and in its performance as a periodical article. In this three-way performance, it uniquely constructs its own identity in a manner illuminating of both periodical writing and of its readership during this period. I intend to use not only translation theory, in my examination of the significance of Sartor Resartus, but also media theory.
From here, my research will move on to the peculiar political and historical context that led to the development of psuedo-translations and hoaxes within Romantic France, beginning with an extended analysis of Prosper Mérimée's La Guzla. Although my intended development is at this moment still nebulous, I intend for my research on pseudo-translations to have far-reaching effects in terms of our understanding of transnational mediations within European Romanticism.