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The Translator Vanishes

Houghton holds two copies of the first French translation of a substantial selection of Johnson’s Rambler essays (a complete translation would be published the following year), which is remarkable considering that only a handful of copies are known to exist. It was even more remarkable when I happened to compare them for the first time, and discovered a significant difference between them.

Morceaux choisis du Rambler, 1785. 2003J-SJ151 and EC75.J6371.Eh785b

Morceaux choisis du Rambler, 1785. 2003J-SJ151 and EC75.J6371.Eh785b

It’s hard to know for sure which state is the earlier, but it seems plausible that the translator, Antoine Marie Henri Boulard, having noted in the original version that he had given up the profession of translation, subsequently decided to remove his name (and some identifying information about his new employment) from the work altogether. He appears to have had another change of heart, however, since we own several other Boulard translations from the 1790s and early 19th century.

UPDATE 7/6/11: My colleague Stephen Ferguson, Curator of Rare Books at Princeton, points out that the Princeton copy, scanned for Google Books, is halfway between these two, lacking the name on the title page but including the text in the preface.

Published in:John Overholt |on June 29th, 2011 |Comments Off on The Translator Vanishes

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