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This dissertation investigates the impact of Spanish-English translations on the development of English literature. While the Spanish empire held sway over much of the early modern transatlantic world, particularly over its rival, the English empire, the linguistic networks that connected these political powers have received relatively little attention in comparison to more traditional language pairs. This is, in part, due to the centuries of anti-Iberian propaganda that demonized Hispanic and North African cultures in order to claim England’s supposedly rightful place as the heir to Rome in the Classical transfer of knowledge and empire. Indeed, scholars have begun to show how England learned from Spain while simultaneously disavowing its significance in this so-called “black legend.” Still, recent studies have focused most intensely on the politics of propaganda and left further aesthetic connections unexplored. Without assessing the rich array of translations from Spanish, scholars risk missing crucial lines of literary innovation and the foreign that has always lain at the heart of English history. Irregular Pearls works to fill this lacuna by (1) providing bibliographic information for over two hundred Spanish-English translations published from 1543-1712, (2) contextualizing these works in the translation issues of their day, (3) presenting three case studies with in-depth comparisons between source and target texts, and (4) demonstrating the influences of these cases’ translation techniques on “native” English writing. In specific, I examine the English editions of the bestselling Cárcel de amor (1492), Amadís de Gaula (1508), and La Diana (1559). Each of these influential texts undergoes drastic changes in what I call baroque processes of transformation. They amplify Catholic images that embody controversial themes of martyrdom, add rhetorical models that reject English superiority over colonial subjects, and create poetic variations that render themes of unrequited love more disturbing through overly rich metaphors of conquest. Together, these translations develop formal elements typical to the baroque (violence, expansion, opulence, mutability) and use those elements to problematize England’s growing goals (religious purity, imperial conquest, colonial extraction). Ultimately, in my final chapter, I show how this process occurs in even the most traditionally “English” of texts like The Faerie Queene.

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439 pages


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Amadís de Gaula; Baroque; Cárcel de amor; La Diana; The Faerie Queene; Translation Studies


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Lorenz, Philip

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Kalas, Rayna
Pinet, Simone

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English Language and Literature

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Ph. D., English Language and Literature

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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