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Translating, publishing and illustrating an Italian masterpiece: The many French lives of 'The Betrothed' (1827) by Alessandro Manzoni

Dr Aurélie Gendrat-Claudel, is a Senior Lecturer at Sorbonne Université (Paris)

The paper will analyse the context in which Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed (1827) was made available to the French public, from the first two rival versions in 1828 to the countless shortened and revised editions published throughout the century and up to the 1960s; these successive versions played a major role in conveying a distorted image of The Betrothed, reducing a complex and pessimistic novel to a naive edifying story meant for a Catholic audience and/or for young readers. Such a shift in interpretation can still be felt today in Manzoni’s reception in France – and not only in France. The special case of Manzoni’s novel therefore sheds light on the way implicit or explicit ideological and commercial strategies can take precedence over linguistic and literary concerns. While this paper will include occasional comparisons between the source text (Italian) and the target text (French), it will focus mostly on the context and para-text, including prefaces and images.

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