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A Credible Omen Of A More Glorious Event

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

The 'war of the pen' waged unrelentingly throughout the English Revolution witnessed the mobilisation of myriad literary forces. Yet, despite the extensive scholarship which this has precipitated, not all of these forces have received the level of attention their contemporary reputations and political potentialities merit. Romance and, in particular, romance translation, is a conspicuous example.1 In the fields of mid-seventeenth-century literary-historical criticism and royalist studies, many linguistic and polemical features of this mode have been elucidated. There has, however, been little sustained textual and contextual analysis of individual romance translations. Similarly, the personal and partisan registers and cadences of the romance tradition have yet to undergo detailed examination in published work on exile and banishment during this period, a topic experiencing a welcome effervescence. Given the noteworthy volume of Replica Cartier Roadster romances and romance translations produced in these years, predominantly though by no means exclusively by emigre royalists,4 and the revealing light they shed on contemporary literary sensibilities and political allegiance, it is surprising that this area remains comparatively neglected.

Written in exile, in Antwerp before being completed in The Hague, Sir Charles Cotterell's prose romance Cassandra (1652), a full English translation of the first heroic romance published in Europe, Gauthier de Costes de la Calprenede's Cassandre (1642-9), affords paradigmatic source material, from a distinctly royalist perspective, with which to help fill this critical lacuna. Its popularity alone demands attention. If not a publishing phenomenon on the scale of royalist literary touchstones such as Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler (1653), Cassandra was one of Breitling Bentley Replica Watches the most widely read romances of its day. More significantly, it provides compelling evidence of the potent interface between romance, translation and exile in the 1650s, raising interesting and important questions about the ways in which an established, if even by the standards of the day strikingly unstable literary form is filtered through the rhetoric of royalist defeat and dispossession. These in turn touch on and are informed by several issues I will discuss here: the influence of the place of refuge, the choice of text, the dynamic between history, politics and imagination, linguistic techniques and the psychological impulses behind such translations.

Before the author and the text itself are discussed in detail, the question of what 'royalism' actually meant in the post-regicide early 1650s, when Cassandre was translated, needs to be addressed. Usefully, recent scholarship has gone some way towards discrediting the orthodox view which holds that royalists in this period are neatly divisible into 'absolutists' (or 'ultras') and 'constitutionalists' (or 'moderates'); that is, into those, including Henry Jermyn, of the 'Louvre' faction linked with Henrietta Maria, who argued for a military solution to restore Charles II, and 'Old Royalists', such as Edward Hyde and Edward Nicholas, who preferred a more diplomatic, 'wait on events' approach. It is becoming clear that there was no such strict dichotomy: within the majority 'constitutional' royalist ranks alone there were varying degrees of commitment and points of view, informing debates over such key issues as the authority of the king, the role of parliament, and the nature of political loyalty, some of which betray important intersections between moderate royalists and moderate parliamentarians.

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