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UBC Theses and Dissertations

English translators and their project in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I Jensen, Erik


The subject of this study is the translation into English of French Protestant works on religion in the last three decades of the sixteenth century. The study focuses on the translators and the religious impulse underlying their translation work. This translation project represents one aspect of a large and varied translation industry at work in England in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. There are several reasons for this study's particular focus. First, religious works constitute the single largest category of works in translation. Second, the largest number of such translations appear in the late sixteenth century, and of these, French Protestant works predominate. Third, the unique nature of the translators' prefatory epistles (the dedicatory epistles and 'Prefaces to the Reader’) in this period allow for a close examination of the motivational drive behind such activity. These epistles are distinct from the more conventional prefatory epistles of the earlier sixteenth century and (to an even greater extent) those of the early seventeenth century. The prefatory epistles, therefore, constitute the primary source material for this study; the paper's methodolgy involves a close examination of these epistles. The study shows that the translators share a common religious program. This program involves the "englishing" of foreign religious works in order to provide religious instruction for the common people. The paper explores both the translators' strong commitment to this project and their common concerns regarding the state of religion in England—concerns that are used by the translators as a justification for their translation work. Finally, the paper places this activity in the broader context of late sixteenth century English Protestantism. One finds that the translators' project ties in with more recent scholarship emphasizing the pastoral concerns of English Protestants in this period.

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