The Romance of Transmutation: Diego de San Pedro’s Arnalte and Lucenda’s English Fortunes

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In the dedicatory epistle to his 1660 translation of Diego de San Pedro’s sentimental romance Tractado de amores de Arnalte y Lucenda (1491), Thomas Sydserf recounts the meandering linguistic transmission of the text to English: from the fictitious Greek source, to San Pedro’s Spanish, to Nicolas de Herberay’s French to Bartolomeo Maraffi’s Italian to four English translations and eight separate editions from 1543 to 1660. This convoluted transmission history leads Sydserf to lament that San Pedro’s romance has been “much castrated in its undergoing so many transmutations.” Yet mining the rich strata of intermediary translation proves to be its own kind of interlinguistic romance. This paper will focus on the process of intermediary transmutation, i.e., the textual-material encrustation of paratexts, polyglot formatting, typeface code-switching, and illustrations that framed the translations, particularly in the transformation of a popular Spanish novela sentimental to an Italian language-learning aid, The Italian Schoole-maister (1597).


Philadelphia, PA

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