Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

School of English Research Seminar

Alexander Bubb (TCD), Building a Global Bookshelf: Asian Classics for the Victorian General Reader

‘It has been my endeavour in this book,’ announced the Anglo-German writer Helen Zimmern in the preface to her 1883 edition of the Shahnameh, ‘to popularize the tales told by the Persian poet Firdusi [sic] in his immortal epic.’ She freely confessed to almost no knowledge of Persian, explaining that she had derived most of her text from a recent French edition, but justified her work on the basis of its rendering the medieval poem accessible to the Victorian general reader. This was a very different notion of ‘the public’ than that entertained by Joseph Champion—a colleague of William Jones—and James Atkinson when they had produced the first English versions of the Persian epic three generations beforehand. My current project hangs on Zimmern’s word ‘popularize’. It explores the production of popular or ‘people’s editions’ of classical literature from Asia, and seeks to explain how—in the course of the nineteenth century—texts that were hitherto the preserve mainly of scholars and imperial administrators were distributed to typical drawing-room shelves in Britain, America, Australia and the wider empire. Alex Bubb is a Senior Lecturer in English at Roehampton University in London. He works on nineteenth-century literature in Britain, India, and Ireland, and also on aspects of modern Indian history. In 2016 he published Meeting Without Knowing It: Kipling and Yeats at the Fin de Siècle (Oxford University Press), a comparative study of the two poets in the 1890s. Presently he is completing a project on popular translations, made for the Victorian 'general reader', of literary classics from Asia.

Category: Public Lectures and Seminars: Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
Time: 3-4pm
Location: Room 2.12 O'Rahilly Building
Target Audience: All welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Clíona Ó Gallchoir
021 4902664

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