UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gavin Douglas's Prologues to his Eneados : the narrator in quest of a new homeland Canitz, Auguste Elfriede Christa


In translating the Aeneid as faithfully as possible, Gavin Douglas saw himself as an innovator, breaking with the tradition of adaptation and instead presenting a faithful literary translation. In the Prologues to his Eneados Douglas discusses his theoretical principles, comments on the work of his predecessors in the transmission of Virgil in English, and raises issues pertinent to the contents of the Books of the Aeneid. However, the Prologues also reflect Douglas's perception of a conflict between his religious and artistic impulses, and show his gradual resolution of this conflict inherent in his dual role as critical artist and churchman. By placing Douglas's Prologues in the context of prologues by other medieval writers, Chapter I shows that Douglas's new approach to faithful literary translation is matched by his independence in the employment of conventional literary devices, which he revitalizes by using them in a meaningful way rather than applying them because custom so dictates. Chapter II focuses on the narrator in his various and divergent roles, especially those of the poet and priest; while these two roles initially seem to make conflicting demands on the translator-narrator, he eventually resolves the conflict and recognizes a sublime harmony between divine and human artistry. Chapter III examines Douglas's practice of translation in light of his own theory; even though Douglas tends to "modernize" Virgil, he produces a genuine translation in which his avowed aims are largely realized. Chapter IV focuses on the connexions of the individual Prologues with their respective Books and demonstrates that even though the translation itself is generally accurate, the interpolation of the Prologues with their re-interpretation of common archetypes as foreshadowings of Christian doctrine causes a radical transvaluing of the Aeneid as a Christian allegory. Chapter V shows that there is not only a linkage between the Prologues and Books, but that the Prologues are also connected to each other by the narrator's search for a theologically acceptable yet also artistically satisfying re-creation of a non-Christian work. Aeneas and the translator-narrator are thus engaged in parallel quests during which they have to overcome physical obstacles and resolve inner conflicts before they can reach their final destinations.

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