chapter  3
17 Pages

Christine de Pizan as Translator and Voice of the Body Politic

WithLori J. Walters

Critics have pointed out that the medieval concept of translation had political and cultural implications. Charles V was responsible for Christine De Pizan's translation from Italy to Paris and for commissioning the translation of some thirty works from Latin into the French vernacular. A related goal is to show how Christine represents herself as a translator who makes her voice known through the material operations of translation, which are carried out by organs of the human body. Translation for Christine was an ethical practice based upon the adaptation of scriptural models for use in secular society. The semantic field of the term "translation" has narrowed. Extending far beyond the establishment of word-for-word equivalencies, translation was understood in the Middle Ages as a thorough adaptation, a wholesale rewriting of texts endowed with authority. Uniting our modern categories of politics, religion, and ethics, the medieval senses of these terms circumscribed a conceptual and ideological grid for viewing existence and human actions.