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Vathek

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  • David Lenander
    That s very interesting, and I m sure that Joe is probably right. But I thought it was only the interpolated stories that were originally written in French
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 20, 2004
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      That's very interesting, and I'm sure that Joe is probably right. But
      I thought it was only the interpolated stories that were originally
      written in French and later translated. As I recall, Lin Carter
      claimed that he was the first to insert them into the text where they
      belonged, in his Adult Fantasy Series edition. (Of course I wouldn't
      take Lin Carter's word over Screwtape's, without some kind of
      verification). I remember in grad school that I wanted to write about
      the stories for a comparative lit fantasy course, where we were
      supposed to write about texts originally composed in non-English
      languages. Prof. Wlad Godzich told me that the whole story that
      _Vathek_ was composed in French was untrue, and just made up by
      Beckford. I had always wondered if he was wrong, at least about the
      interpolated stories, which certainly seem to have appeared in French
      long before they ever were published in English. (Prof. Godzich was
      kind enough to offer to make an exception and let me write about the
      stories, anyway).

      On Jun 20, 2004, at 4:42 AM, mythsoc@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      > Message: 2
      > Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2004 09:05:54 -0500
      > From: "Joe R. Christopher" <jchristopher@...>
      > Subject: Re: (1) Vathek, (2) Neil Gaiman
      >
      > _Vathek_, by William Beckford, was published in English in 1786; it had
      > previously been published in French. That is, Beckford (although
      > English)
      > wrote it in French, and then he helped another person translate it into
      > English. There was an expanded French version in 1815. I read it for
      > the
      > first time when I was taking an 18th century English novel course.
      >

      >
      David Lenander
      d-lena@...
      2095 Hamline Ave. N.
      Roseville, MN 55113
      651-292-8887
      http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
    • Bill
      David: I m not certain about Carter s claim. I don t have the book handy to check the intro at present. I do know that there was a novel _Vathek_ and some
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 20, 2004
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        David:

        I'm not certain about Carter's claim. I don't have the book handy
        to check the intro at present. I do know that there was a novel
        _Vathek_ and some short stories under a heading _Episodes of
        Vathek_.
        I'd thought at the time the translation story was a literary
        device
        such as that later used by Burroughs when he claimed to be merely
        the editor of John Carter's memoirs. But when I read your post
        I checked some online sources and they seem to confirm your
        professor's story. A fascinating character in his own right,
        Beckford.
        The full text of _Vathek_ is available from several sources
        online, for those who might want to read it.
        Bill W.

        David Lenander wrote:

        > That's very interesting, and I'm sure that Joe is probably right. But
        > I thought it was only the interpolated stories that were originally
        > written in French and later translated. As I recall, Lin Carter
        > claimed that he was the first to insert them into the text where they
        > belonged, in his Adult Fantasy Series edition. (Of course I wouldn't
        > take Lin Carter's word over Screwtape's, without some kind of
        > verification). I remember in grad school that I wanted to write about
        > the stories for a comparative lit fantasy course, where we were
        > supposed to write about texts originally composed in non-English
        > languages. Prof. Wlad Godzich told me that the whole story that
        > _Vathek_ was composed in French was untrue, and just made up by
        > Beckford. I had always wondered if he was wrong, at least about the
        > interpolated stories, which certainly seem to have appeared in French
        > long before they ever were published in English. (Prof. Godzich was
        > kind enough to offer to make an exception and let me write about the
        > stories, anyway).
        >




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Joe R. Christopher
        ... Interesting. I wasn t remembering the details right anyway. Baugh s _Literary History of England_ (1948) says: In literature his [Beckford s] one
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 24, 2004
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          At 04:28 AM 6/21/2004, David Leander wrote:
          >l Prof. Wlad Godzich told me that the whole story that
          >_Vathek_ was composed in French was untrue, and just made up by
          >Beckford. I had always wondered if he was wrong, at least about the
          >interpolated stories, which certainly seem to have appeared in French
          >long before they ever were published in English. (Prof. Godzich was
          >kind enough to offer to make an exception and let me write about the
          >stories, anyway).

          Interesting. I wasn't remembering the details right anyway. Baugh's
          _Literary History of England_ (1948) says: "In literature his [Beckford's]
          one notable achievement is _Vathek, an Arabian Tale_ (1786). This was
          written first in French, of which Beckford had a fairly competent command,
          and was translated into English for him by the Reverend Samuel Henley, who,
          contrary to Beckford's injunctions, published his English version before
          the French had appeared. [. . .] [The book quotes Beckford's account and
          also cites his letters which show him writing on the work in 1782.] On the
          three _Episodes_ (first in English in 1912) designed for ultimate insertion
          towards the end of _Vathek_ he worked intermittently over a longer
          period. They are far less inspired than _Vathek_ itself." Sorry I had
          misremembered, thinking that the French version was published first, not
          just intended to be. I have also checked Margaret Drabble's _The Oxford
          Companion to English Literature_, 6th ed. (2000)--more recent than Baugh's
          book. Drabble says, "_Vathek_ [. . .] published in English 1786. The book
          was written in French and translated into English, with the author's
          assistance, by Samuel Henley. [. . .] Beckford wrote three further
          'Episodes' (the last unfinished) for insertion in the story, and included
          them in his French version of 1815."

          --Joe
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