Cultural Transfers

One of the most challenging and exciting uses for the French Book Trade website is in the study of cultural transfers.

The STN archives reveal the extent to which French language texts circulated across Europe, but also the existence of considerable traffic in the opposite direction, as texts in other languages were translated into French.  The STN traded in French language editions of hundreds of English and German works, including those by Henry Fielding, Fanny Burney, Alexander Pope and Christoph Martin Wieland, as well as works translated from the Swedish, Spanish, Italian and a host of Latin and Greek classics.

The following order contains 12 copies of the STN’s own French language edition of Patrick Brydone’s A Tour through Sicily and Malta.

Indeed the database reveals the extent of interest in other cultures among educated Europeans.  Travel literature, accounts of voyages, guide books, and studies of foreign languages, literatures, histories and societies were in wide demand.  Many popular novels also had foreign settings or used foreign characters to hold up a mirror to European societies.

For reflections on how the STN database and archives might be used to study cultural transfers, see Mark Curran ‘The Société typographique de Neuchâtel and networks of trade and translation in eighteenth-century francophone Europe’ in Ann Thomson, Simon Burrows and Edmond Dziembowski, eds, Cultural Transfers: France and Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010), pp. 257-67. Cultural Transfers will also be a major theme in Simon Burrows, Enlightenment Best-Sellers: the French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, vol.2 (Continuum, forthcoming).