Utopia inverted: A contemporary German translation of François Hédelin d'Aubignac's Royaume de la Coqueterie (1654)

John Alexander

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Abstract

In the seventeenth century it was common practice to publish satire anonymously. This is true of both the French original written by François Hédelin and of the German translation that appeared in 1659. On the basis of strong circumstantial evidence, the article identifies the translator as Isaac Clauss who was born and raised in Strasbourg, a city with a long and venerable tradition of satirical literature (Brant, Moscherosch). While the wrath of the two authors is directed in general at the hedonism and superficiality of a younger generation and in particular at its obsession with pre- and extramarital sex and the consequent implications for the social and cosmic order, the translation itself, modelled on Luther and Opitz, reflects cultural differences as well as the personal interests/values of Clauss. He is in addition an adept linguist with a sovereign command of both languages, his German being simultaneously clear and idiomatic and less verbose than that of other contemporary authors. The use of a French original to lambast French manners and values, however paradoxical it may be, is a desperate (if not quixotic) attempt to stem the irresistible and, in Clauss's perception, morally debilitating tide of French influence on a neighbouring culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalNeophilologus
Volume84
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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