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How The Lusiad Got English'd: Manuel Faria y Sousa, Richard Fanshawe and the First English Translation of Os Lusíadas

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tiago Sousa Garcia



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Richard Fanshawe's translation of the Portuguese national epic Os Lusíadas (1655) has long been seen as a breakthrough in Anglo-Portuguese literary exchanges. The English Ambassador was the first to undertake such work outside of the Iberian Peninsula, and, for a number of readers, his translation remains one of the best, if not the best, rendition of Camões' masterpiece into English. One would expect a translator of such an intricate work of literary art to be deeply knowledgeable of Portuguese language, history and culture – as his appointment as ambassador to Portugal in 1663 seems to corroborate. Yet evidence that Fanshawe read, wrote or spoke Portuguese, other than the translation itself, is scarce, and concrete evidence of his actual proficiency in the language has only recently been discovered.Previously, the few authors who have addressed the issue, particularly Roger Walker, have suggested that Fanshawe did not use the original Portuguese text as the basis for his work, but rather took Manuel Faria y Sousa's monumental Spanish translation and commentary (1639) as his source, even going as far as claiming that Fanshawe did not translate from the Portuguese at all, but rather rendered into English the Spanish translation of Manuel de Faria y Sousa. This article will explore the connections between the two translations – Faria y Sousa's and Fanshawe's – and tackle some of the implications that such genetic connection might give rise to. By focusing the discussion through a selective close reading of the two translations and their respective paratexts, this article will conclude that while Fanshawe's use of Faria y Sousa's translation is undeniable, the relationship between the two is far more complex than previously thought. Namely, it will be argued that Fanshawe did not use Faria y Sousa's translation as a primary source but rather as a compendium of all the information available about Camoes, his epic, Portugal and its history and culture. In doing so, it will also contribute to a broader understanding of how literature travelled within Europe in the 17th century – rather than a simple binary equation of original and target languages; its path is often a complex road map of roundabouts, off-shoots and B-roads.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sousa-Garcia T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Literature Compass

Year: 2017

Volume: 14

Issue: 4

Print publication date: 01/04/2017

Online publication date: 07/04/2017

Acceptance date: 17/07/2016

Date deposited: 27/07/2020

ISSN (electronic): 1741-4113

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/lic3.12387


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