Translation and Audience: Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Gold-Bug”

Clayton Tyler McKee


This study intends to explore how the intended audience of a translation shapes the techniques used by the translators of the same text in order to convey the same message in a different manner. Focusing on two translations of a work done by Edgar Allen Poe, this work demonstrates how the translator shapes a translation to its audience, whether it is a pedagogical purpose or a literary one. In nineteenth century France, translations of Edgar Allan Poe began appearing in newspapers and journals catching the attention of well-known authors, such as Charles Baudelaire. While many academics, such as Wallaert and Bonnefoy, have compared Baudelaire’s translations and language choice to the original works and other translators working in the intellectual arena, the translation of “The Gold-Bug” in a young women’s magazine has not been included in the conversation. Twenty-two years before Baudelaire translates “The Gold-Bug,” originally published in English in 1843, Le magasin de desmoiselles offered a version of “Le scarabée d’or” which differed greatly in style from the version Baudelaire would provide. Comparing the two versions of the story through Schleiermacher’s theory on moving the text and Nida’s theory of equivalencies demonstrates how methods of translation fit for specific audiences in terms of a text’s foreignization and domestication. Le magasin strove to educate young bourgeoisie women à l’aristocrat while Baudelaire found inspiration in Poe’s work which would influence other movements in France. These purposes led to two translations that educate readers on foreign authors also allowing a view into how audience has influenced the translation of Poe for the French public. 


Literary Translation, Educational Translation, Audience, Nineteenth Century

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