“Open[ing] the Flood-gate of literature to her own Sex”: Elizabeth Griffith, translation, transmission, and cultural transfer

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Abstract

Elizabeth Griffith (1727–1793) was a prolific contributor to the literature of the eighteenth century. In addition to her achievements as actress, playwright, novelist, and poet, her career as editor and translator reveals much about women's agency and their role in cultural transmission across national boundaries and historical periods. Consideration of her engagement with these roles allows for an exploration of intercultural transfer, book history, translation theory, as well as developments in literary criticism and editing. Griffith's engagement with translation and adaptation as a literary process, including adaptation for pedagogical purposes, is also particularly revealing of trends and literary tastes of those in both Britain, and Ireland, where she spent much of her time, as well as reflective of those in previous generations in France. Griffith's collections, especially her 1777 project A Collection of Novels, a 3-volume edition of earlier male and female writers, also play a significant role in foundational considerations of the novel, and its rise, with Griffith's introductions and prefaces exploring the nature of the form and its association with morality. Griffith's collections afforded an example to those of her own sex in both Ireland and Britain, encouraging new publications and celebrating writing by women. Engagement with Griffith's Collection enhances our understanding of translation and editorial work as a channel for female expression and self-construction in the eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-202
JournalWomen's Writing
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date13 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

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