Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Feminism in translation: Re-writing the Rights of Women

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura Kirkley



In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published her Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Rapidly translated into French and German, it brought her fame in Europe. At the hands of each translator, however, Wollstonecraft's feminist message underwent distinct transformations. In Défense des droits des femmes, the anonymous French translator uses his translational choices and paratextual commentary to promote Wollstonecraft's feminist message and align it with the republican politics of the French Revolution. The German translation, Rettung der Rechte des Weibes, was the work of Christian Gotthilf Salzmann and Georg Friedrich Christian Weissenborn, whose relatively conservative mlilieu demanded a translation that muted the most controversial aspects of Wollstonecraft's feminism. By 1796, the radical Batavian, Ijsbrand van Hamelsveld, had drawn on the Salzmann/Weissenborn edition to create a Dutch version, Verdediging van de Rechten der Vrouwen. The cosmopolitan ethos of the Enlightenment ostensibly ensures that Wollstonecraft's feminist ideas cross national and linguistic borders, but as they meet and clash with the diverse ideologies and political systems of eighteenth-century Europe, the distinctive language of her ground-breaking tract is transformed. Her emancipatory message is at times amplified and at times subdued, but always distorted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kirkley L

Editor(s): Toremans, T; Verschueren, W

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Crossing Cultures: Nineteenth-Century Anglophone Literature in the Low Countries

Year: 2009

Pages: 189-200

Publisher: Leuven University Press

Place Published: Leuven


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9789058677334