François Villon in English : translation and cross-cultural poetic influence
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This thesis argues that François Villon becomes a significant, but overlooked, influence in the tradition of English poetry, and that this influence reveals itself in translations, adaptations, and responses to his work. By focusing on the way in which numerous high profile poets in the United Kingdom and the United States have reacted to Villon, this study will posit that the reasons behind the appeal of his oeuvre as a source text lie both in the protean nature of his narrative voice and in the myth of his life. The inter-lingual intertextual relationships established through translation and the residue of Villon in English poetic tradition will be presented by means of five case studies, all taking the work of a specific poet as their theme: Algernon Charles Swinburne; Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Ezra Pound; Basil Bunting; and Robert Lowell. These five poets are presented as being exemplary of a greater tradition of translating Villon into English, and will take the reader from the first verse translations of his work in the nineteenth century, to postmodern adaptations and parodies of Villon in the twentieth. They will illustrate the specified intertextual relationships that exist both between source text and target text, and the work of one translator and another, thereby demonstrating the accumulation of influences at play in any one translation of this medieval French poet. In so doing, this thesis will also explore translation and adaptation as dialogical and transformative spaces, distinct from other genres in their ability to establish cross-cultural and interlingual intertexts. Translation and adaptation as spaces of cultural and linguistic hybridity will be demonstrated by observing some of the ways in which Villon has left his mark on English verse, and some of the Villons that anglophone poets have created in their turn.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-05-07
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 7th May 2024
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