Principal Investigator: Lynne Tatlock, Washington University in St. Louis. One year after its first publication in London in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre first appeared in both English and in German translation in the German-language print domain, and over the next sixty years the novel circulated widely in the German-language print domain
This project studies a nineteenth-century subgenre of romance with transcultural and translingual purchase. One year after its first publication in London in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre first appeared in both English and in German translation in the German-language print domain, and over the next sixty years the novel circulated widely in the German-language print domain in the form of multiple translations, abridgements, and adaptations including an adaptation for the stage and several adaptations for younger girls. Beginning in the mid 1860s, traces of the novel surface in the serialized fiction of the best-selling Eugenie Marlitt. These novels too were reprinted, adapted for girls, put on stage, and translated into English to become bestselling works in America. A large piece of the project relies upon new methods and tools arising from the digital humanities. Calling upon such methods and tools developed in the digital humanities workshop at Washington University as well as the expertise of DH staff and the help of students, the project tracks the retention and alterations of formal elements of Brontë’s novel over the course of these various processes of cultural transfer, seeking to identify and explain the international and tlocal purchase in the nineteenth century of a romance genre that musters gothic elements to propose and construct marriage grounded in “conversation all day long,” i.e., a form of equality in a time of inequality.
Most recently the project team has investigated changes in character configuration and dialogue that occurred when seven Marlitt novels were adapted for the stage, discovering that some stage versions undercut the progressive tendencies of the original novels while others pick up on and enhance these.