Past event

English Research Seminar -- Dr Megan Bushnell Gavin Douglas' interpretation of the injuction against word for word translation in the eneados

Gavin Douglas's Eneados (1513) is the first full translation of the Aeneid into either the English or Scottish traditions. This is a monumental achievement that offers many insights into early humanist translation. Within the general Prologue to the work, Douglas makes certain declarations about his translation and seemingly disavows word for word translation, declaring: ‘To follow alanerly Virgilis wordis, I weyn, / Thar suld few vndirstand me quhat thai meyn' (I.Prol.391-92). Based on these claims, it has become a truism that Douglas does not pursue literal translation in the Eneados. However, the evidence cited for this claim is usually Douglas's own characterisation of his text rather than the translation itself. Consequently, there is a potential gap between Douglas's claims and his actual practice that is worth investigating. This paper further explores Douglas's comments in the Prologue by analysing Douglas's translation method directly. This has been done using a combination of literary analysis and a method inspired by corpus linguistics, where Douglas's text and source are digitised and then analysed using corpus linguistic tools and quantitative metrics. This mixed method discovers that Douglas is not as averse to literal translation as his comments in Prologue I suggest. Rather, he is making a subtle distinction between a lexically minded translation and a quantitatively or formally minded one. In this way, he creates a new form of translation that can aim to be both accurate and creative, in effect transforming academic, humanistic translation into a creative enterprise. However, this is something that evolves over the course of Douglas's translation, and is a realisation borne of the translation process itself.