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Title: Credible Impostures: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Long Eighteenth Century
Authors: Yousef, Aia Hussein
Advisors: Bowlby, Rachel
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Subjects: Comparative literature
English literature
Translation studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation explores the relation between translation and prose fiction in the long eighteenth century. I make multiple claims, but my primary one is straightforward: I argue that a concept of the credible fiction comes into sharper focus in the eighteenth century in large part because of writers who turn to contemporaneous translation discourse for ideas about producing an “imitation” of the world in their fictions. In historicizing the term “imitation,” I draw attention to both the distinctive ways that translators and imitators during this period theorized their practice and how these ideas and techniques were absorbed and further developed by writers of fiction who were, themselves, interested in producing something like copies of the world around them in their texts. The title of my dissertation, Credible Impostures: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Long Eighteenth Century, also refers to the significance of the word “imposture” to my study. In one way or another, all of the fictions under examination in this dissertation draw from the centuries-old Western Christian discourse on “Mahometanism.” While Western representations of Islam are part of a broad and shifting semantic field that extends over centuries, they become overwhelmingly associated with the concept of imposture beginning in the seventeenth century. Part of my study, then, relies on the argument that fictions staged in or that draw from representations associated with some part of the Islamic world emerge as crucial ground for the conjunction of several ideas that are vital to this study: ideas related to credibility, simulation, and credulity. My first chapter turns to translation’s theorization in the long eighteenth century, and the following three chapters situate the literary works of Daniel Defoe, Montesquieu, Penelope Aubin, James Ridley, Frances Sheridan, Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, and others in a historical context that demonstrates the crucial overlap of ideas about translation and fiction during this period. Through close readings of these “fictions of translation”—both pseudotranslations and fictions that I argue thematize translation—I propose a reexamination of the role that ideas and practices of translation play in the development of the credible fiction.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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