“Toujours il faut adoucir”: Jonathan Swift, the Abbé Yart, Albin Hennet, and “le bon goût qui règne en France”

In: Reading Swift

In October of 1749, the Journal de Trévoux reviewed both the final volume of Pierre-Antoine de la Place’s Le Théâtre Anglois (1745/6-49) and the first volume of the Abbé Antoine Yart’s Idée de la poësie Angloise (1749-53). La Place provided the first French translations of Shakespeare. Yart provided translations and the first moderately full French overview of English poetry. Each sympathetic translator was thirty-eight years old. Each represented a young generation of mid-century French men of letters. Each well-reviewed set of volumes was an epochal event in Anglo-French literary relations. Each has been largely ignored. I hope to rectify that oversight regarding the Abbé Yart, his colleagues, and his contexts. I will discuss the French view of Jonathan Swift that Yart inherited, how and why he at the least softened his translations of Swift’s poems, and how he hoped thereby to change Swift’s reputation in eighteenth-century France. I then will suggest the degree to which those adoucissements and post-Orrery publication influenced further appreciation and transmission of Swift’s poetry and reputation, most particularly in Albin-Joseph-Ulpien Hennet’s La Poétique Anglaise (1806).1

Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift


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