The Gender of Pseudotranslation in the Works of Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, Mme Beccari and Cornélie Wouters

  • Beatrijs Vanacker


While authorship recognition was a challenge for all eighteenth-century aspiring writers regardless of their gender, the social position of women was such that public claims of authorship and ownership over a text were even less self-evident in the public sphere. As will be illustrated in this article, female writers especially made extensive use of transfer strategies (such as translation and pseudotranslation) to establish their authorship, thereby turning paratext and narrative into a dynamic maneuvering space. Considered from a gender perspective, the challenge for eighteenth-century female writers was to gradually “invent” themselves, or rather establish a voice of their own. Taking on a different (cultural) persona—even if only on a paratextual level—could provide them with a discursive “platform” from which they could negotiate their way into the literary field. In order to illustrate this gender-specific emancipatory quality of pseudotranslation, as established mainly in their paratexts, the present article proposes a comparative analysis of their forms and functions in the career and oeuvre of three eighteenth-century French women writers, Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, Mme Beccari and Cornélie de Wouters, who all made extensive use of pseudo-English fiction.