Celebrating Women in Translation Month

This August we celebrate Women in Translation Month. Women in Translation month began in 2014, from the initiative of book blogger Meytal Radzinski. Radzinski set out to encourage and challenge readers, all across the world, to find and read translated texts by women.

“Only a tiny fraction of fiction published in English is translated, and only about a quarter of that translated fiction was originally written by women. For some reason, fiction in translation by women remains as rare as black diamonds.” (Source: Women in Translation)

This August Boydell & Brewer want to celebrate women in translation. Together we can celebrate, encourage and support this festivity by bringing attention to women translator and women writers who have been translated.

We want to specifically take a closer look at our series: Library of Medieval Women. Enjoy a preview of the 5 most recent publications from this series.

A Revelation of Purgatory

Edited by Liz Herbert McAvoy

A Revelation of Purgatory was written by an unnamed woman, almost certainly an anchoress, in Winchester in 1422. It details from a first-person perspective a series of terrifying visions experienced by the author in which she witnesses the purgatorial sufferings of a former friend named Margaret who makes her way through the blazing fires of purgatory tormented by devils, the “worm of conscience”, and – uniquely – her two former pets, a fierce little cat and dog. Through her prayer and the prayers she elicits from her own circle of influential priests, the anchoress is eventually able to deliver Margaret to the doors of the heavenly Jerusalem. Available here in accessible parallel-text format with extended introduction and annotation

Women’s Books of Hours in Medieval England

Translated by Charity Scott-Stokes

This volume brings together a selection of texts taken from books of hours known to have been owned by women. While some will be familiar from bibles or prayer-books, others have to be sought in specialist publications, often embedded in other material, and a few have not until now been available at all in modern editions or translations. The texts are complemented by an introduction, an interpretive essay, glossary and annotated bibliography.

The Vision of Christine de Pizan

Translated by Glenda McLeod & Charity Cannon Willard

Christine de Pizan’s The Vision is both a powerful contemporary response to the chaos that would eventually precipitate Henry V’s invasion of France, and a fascinating view of the author’s own progress as a woman reader, writer, and public commentator in the late Middle Ages. As a long-time intimate of the French court, Christine here analyses the origins of the civil strife in which France found itself in 1405, and offers a possible future, calling for its resolution in the voice of a prophet. Alongside her documentation of the difficulties faced by a medieval woman left widowed early in life, she also explores issues of gender and authorship, interpretation and misinterpretation in her remarkable career as a writer and advisor of princes.

Anne of France: Lessons for my Daughter

by Sharon L. Jansen

Anne of France (1461-1522), daughter of Louis XI and sister of Charles VIII, was one of the most powerful women of her time. As the fifteenth century drew to a close, Anne composed a series of lessons for her daughter Suzanne of Bourbon. These instructions represent a distillation of a lifetime’s experience, and are presented through the portrait of an ideal princess. The lessons are here translated into English for the first time and accompanied by full introduction, commentary and notes. This is the first translation into English of Anne of France’s Lessons.

Goscelin of St Bertin: The Book of Encouragement and Consolation [Liber Confortatorius]

Translated by Monika Otter

The Liber Confortatorius was written in about 1083 by the monk Goscelin to a protegee and personal friend, the recluse Eva. As a compendious treatise, it has much to tell us about the intellectual interests and preoccupations of religious people in the late eleventh century. As a personal document, it allows a fascinating and uncommonly intimate insight into the psychology of religious life and the relationships between men and women in the high middle ages. This English translation is presented here with notes and introduction.