BARTHOLOMEW YONG: THE CRITICAL BACKGROUND

 

In its day, Yongfs translation Diana found favour.  It was among the illustrious company of translations in Ben Jonsonfs library[1]; but perhaps the strongest proof of its popularity, and of the standing of Diana as the pastoral novel par excellence, was the size of Yongfs contribution to Englands Helicon.[2]  Yong was the most heavily represented author in this pastoral anthology (1600; and in the 2nd edition, 1614) with 25 poems, followed by Sidney (15) and Lodge (14).[3]  He was severely criticised a hundred years ago by A.H. Bullen, who could not understand his inclusion in this selection,[4] unless he were ga close friend of the indulgent editor.h[5]  Despite the weaknesses of Bullenfs animadversions – one of which was a reference to Yongfs gunpoetical nameh! – his remarks were highly influential.  Around the same time, John Garrett Underhill claimed that Yong was overestimated by his contemporaries owing to his contacts and the popularity of the author he translated; his version was gpainstaking and remarkably faithfulc not readable.  The verses are particularly unfortunate.h[6]   Yongfs translation is a notable omission from the two series of eTudor Translationsf in the first quarter of the 20th century.  The editors of this series were in all likelihood influenced by Bullen; in any case, they exalted the prose translations of the Elizabethans while expressing little more than contempt for the poems included in these volumes.[7]  This view persisted through such critics as Kenneth Muir, who described the poems inset in novels as gthe most disappointing branch of Elizabethan lyric writing.h[8]

 

Yongfs efforts have occasionally found praise. The Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica (1815) remarked: gMontemayorfs pastoral of Diana is beautiful; it is in prose, but mingled with a considerable quantity of poetry by Yong, the merits of which are not sufficiently known.h[9]  In 1849, George Ticknor considered his translation of Diana to be excellent, and wrote of gits happy versions of the poetry of Montemayor.h[10]  Writing in the 1890s, Hugo A. Rennert praised Yongfs prose – gIt is an excellent translation, though not always so happy in turning the verse into Englishh[11] – and James Fitzmaurice-Kelly labelled Yongfs text an gexcellent version.h[12]   The author of eThree Phases of Pastoral Sentimentf in the Edinburgh Review of April 1905[13] quotes (evidently with approval) ll. 61-75 of eO eies, that see not himf and the first four quatrains of eShepherd, who can passe such wrong,f[14] a poem that was warmly commended – for its metre, not for its poetry – by George Saintsbury.[15]  Walter W. Greg gave guarded praise in 1906, claiming that Yong represented the one exception to the negligible translations of pastoral romances.[16]  Henry Thomas, who published what remained of Thomas Wilsonfs translation in 1920,[17] asserted that Yongfs translations add little to English poetry, but that the responsibility for this lay largely with the originals, which expressed no lofty sentiments and were incidental to the story.[18]  The 1926 editor of Fiammetta, Edward Hutton, considered Yong to be a careful and faithful translator, and he praised the colour and conceits, the melody and stateliness, of his rich and rhythmic prose.[19]  He also made reference to an article by T.P. Harrison in the Modern Language Review of that year, entitled eBartholomew Yong, Translator,f which provided biographical facts about this previously shadowy figure.[20]  Hyder E. Rollins, who edited Englands Helicon in 1935, offered a more measured approach to criticism than his Victorian predecessor; his remark that Yong is gcertainly not inferior to the general run of Elizabethan verse translators,h and his mollifying statement that Yongfs contributions are translations, on a par with those of Sidney from Diana,[21] suggests that one should approach translated verse with lower expectations and greater tolerance.  The other editor of this anthology, Hugh MacDonald, found the items under Yongfs name to be of varying merit (1962, p. xx).

 

In 1959, the publication of Yongfs translation of Gil Polo[22] suggested a revival of interest; however, the few critical remarks bestowed on him during the early-to-mid 1960s are not favourable: he is accused of a failure to use periphrasis, and of lacking figurative language, by a critic who has not read his Diana and is judging from the context of Englands Helicon[23]; and he is criticised for attempting to reproduce both the content and the external form of his originals.[24]

 

His reputation was slightly restored by Judith M. Kennedyfs 1968 edition of his translation,[25] leading one critic to claim that The Diana of George of Montemayor had become a classic Tudor Translation[26]; however, the reviewers of this edition tended to concentrate on Montemayor or the editor rather than on the translator.[27]  They do, to their credit, make the valid criticism that Kennedy does not include Yongfs translation of Pérezfs sequel.[28]  She makes the point that this sequel is universally recognised to be a text of little value[29]; indeed, it has been almost relegated to the category of espurious sequel.f[30]  One senses that she does not trust Yongfs translation of this part, but believes that its inclusion would weaken her case for a revaluation of an unjustly neglected figure.  Once again, the translator is at the mercy of the original author; if the latter produces an inferior text, the assumption is that there can be no translation of this text of any real worth.  Even if Kennedy did not feel this herself, she was probably conscious of the number of critics who do ride this slow train of thought, and so she chose the route of slightest resistance.  Although the major criticism levelled against Pérezfs work – that he fails to assimilate the various elements into a controlled unity[31] – is perfectly justified, the inferiority of the text does not deny it an afterlife.  It is still endowed with suggestive ability; for example, it is known that Book Six of The Faerie Queene demonstrates the influence, in its characters and incidents, of Pérezfs novel.[32]  There is no reason why this generative potential should not apply to translations, or why the reader should be debarred access to Yongfs version.  Furthermore, if we wish to study Yong as a translator, it is surely of benefit to pay attention to every text that he translated into English, otherwise we are painting an incomplete picture.  As we shall discover later, there is one important aspect of his technique that would be overlooked if we did not turn our thoughts to his version of the Segunda Parte de la Diana.

 

One is not likely to find much attention paid to Yong by Spanish (or, indeed, Portuguese) critics; in this respect, he suffers the fate of the majority of translators.  Those who write about Montemayor or Gil Polo are perfectly content to state that their works have been translated into other languages, but the implication is that this is simply a reflection on the quality of the original.  There is a certain pride inherent in the fact of being translated; the quality of the actual translation is considered to be of no moment.  Much is made of the inspiration Diana gave to Sidney and Honoré dfUrfé, but precious little mention is made of Yong.[33] 

 

Finally, one may consider turning to secondary literature on Sidney, in the faint hope that Yongfs name will find a mention, perhaps by a critic of the Arcadia with a comparative bent and without knowledge of Spanish.  For example, at the beginning of a paper he read out in 1882, Friedrich Landmann gave the opening passages from the New Arcadia and Yongfs translation.[34]  However, where Sidneyfs Arcadia is concerned, the existence of two differing versions – since the discovery of the Old Arcadia in 1907[35] – means that comparison has been limited to Sidneyfs texts, and Yong does little more than fill the occasional footnote.[36]  A.C. Hamilton made the curious statement: gThe opening of Montemayorfs Diana is superb even in Bartholomew Yongfs workaday translation.h[37]  Such is the brilliance of the original, according to this view, that no journeyman-translator can dim its light!  This serves only to demonstrate the ignorance of many of those critics who have no experience of translation studies: they simply have no idea of the re-creative effort involved in rendering a foreign text into onefs mother tongue.

 

There is no extended comment, and no real depth of analysis.  How are we to reconcile such contradictory pronouncements?  The first factor to take into account is the nature of the original text, in particular its efemininef qualities.  It is not our intention to add another section to the Great Wall of Gender, for the site is already overcrowded, the din of the confusion of tongues is deafening, and we do not understand the language: someone please call a translator!  However, the facts cannot be avoided that the pastoral, like the chivalric romance, was associated with a female readership, that this was especially true of Montemayor, that Diana was popular with the ladies of the Elizabethan Court, and that Yongfs modern editor – like Montemayorfs modern translator into English – are female.

 

Yet there are other reasons, and for these we must consider matters of translation.  Literary works are subject to the winds of fashion, which blow varying concepts of what literature should be; translations, however, are affected by both these winds and those that gust differing conceptions of the role and the nature of translation.  Critical reticence is explained in part by doubt: critics are unsure of their ability to judge a translated text in a language other than their mother tongue.  Furthermore, even when evaluating a translation into their first language, the criteria on which judgement is based are uncertain: hence the contradictory views on the merits of Yongfs translations, especially of his poetry.  The critics are judging by varying standards – against their understanding of English poetry contemporary with Yong, or against their reading of the original.  Caught on the bridge between two languages – English and Spanish – they do not know where to stand.  The most reasonable criticism is that of Hugh MacDonald, with which we would concur: Yong was experimenting with metrical form, and his attempts met with varying success.  It is impossible to blanket his poems with generalisations such as egoodf or eunsuccessfulf; we may say, with regard to this thesis, that his best translations of poetry are to be found in his sonnets.  The fact that an average translator, who is occasionally good and occasionally bad, should enjoy his greatest degree of success when attempting to re-create this genre is revealing; the guiding form of the sonnet appeals not only to dilettante poets, but also to translators.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

- Judith M. KENNEDY (ed.), A Critical Editon of Yongfs Translation of Montemayorfs Diana and Gil Polofs Enamoured Diana (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968).

- Hugh MACDONALD (ed.), Englands Helicon (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962 [1949]).  MacDonald first edited this anthology in 1925.

- Dale B.J. RANDALL, The Golden Tapestry: A Critical Survey of Non-Chivalric Spanish Fiction in English Translation, 1543-1657 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1963)

- Hyder H. ROLLINS (ed.), Englands Helicon. 1600, 1614. 2 Vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935).  Rollins prints the texts as they originally appeared in the anthology, complete with the original editorfs alterations.

 

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[1] The others are: Chapmanfs Seven Books of the Iliad (1598) and his complete Homer (1616); Fentonfs Guicciardini (1599); Floriofs Montaigne (1603); Mabbefs Celestina (1631); and Sandysf Ovid (1632).  -Percy Simpson and Charles Herford (eds.), The Complete Works of Ben Jonson (1925-1952), I:264 and XI:597.  Jonsonfs usual reluctance to annotate his books – exceptions being Chapmanfs Homer, Petrus Scriveriusfs edition of Martial (1619) and Franciscus Modiusfs Pandectae Triumphales (1586), all of which contain marginalia in Latin – is evident also in this edition. –David McPherson, eBen Jonsonfs Library and Marginalia: An Annotated Catalogue,f SP 71:5 (1974), p.11, p.73.

[2] Pointed out by Rollins (1935), p. 35, and Kennedy (1968), p. lvii; and somehow overlooked by earlier critics.

[3] There are still 25 poems under his name in the second edition (1614). The eAuthorfs Indexf to Englandfs Helicon ed. MacDonald (1944) lists 24, omitting the poem on page 160.  This emissingf poem occurs between two poems by Yong, and one really has to wonder exactly how the attentive critic could fail to observe it.  This error has been committed so many times (Randall, 1963, p.81 & n.139; McCoy 1965, p. 30, and p. 286; H.D. Purcell, in his review of Kennedy [1968] in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 46 [1969], 250-251) that it is necessary to lay this tiresome ghost to rest:

                                                                                                                Page No.

Incipit                                                    Englandfs Helicon 1944 ed.                             Kennedy 1968

 

A faire Mayde                                                                      93                                            338 (GP)

I see thee jolly Sheepheard                                                                116                                          218 (M)

If to be lovfd                                                                         159                                          385 (GP)

Let now each Meade                                                           136                                          378 (GP)

Let now the goodly                                                             70                                            367 (GP)

Me thinks thou takfst                                                          160                                          386 (GP)

My life (young Shepherdess)                                            113                                          50 (M)

Neere to the River                                                                145                                          60 (M)

No more (ô cruell Nymph)                                                  107                                          43 (M)

Now Love and Fortune turne                                             149                                          206 (M)

O Let that time                                                                      73                                            370 (GP)

Passed contents                                                                   154                                          220 (M)

Sheepheard, who can passe                                               143                                          49 (M)

Sheepheard, why doofst thou                                           141                                          388 (GP)

Since thou to me                                                                  161                                          386 (GP)

The cause why that thou                                                    133                                          283 (GP)

When that I poore soule                                                     103                                          199 (M)

Young Sheepheard turne                                                    159                                          385 (GP)

 

The following are from Yongfs translation of Pérez:     E.H.                                      Yong 1598

Faustus if thou wilt reade from me                                    156                                          325

I pray thee keepe my kine for me                                       87                                            326

If that the gentle winde                                                       95                                            316

Neuer a greater foe did loue disdaine                               125                                          252

Of mine owne selfe I doe complaine                 130                                          320

Shepherds give eare and now be still                               99                                            185

Who hath of Cupids cates and dainties prayed             120                                          164

 

[4] T.P. Harrison, eBartholomew Yong, Translatorf, MLR 21 (1926), pp. 129-39 (137).  gEnglandfs Helicon c would be of sweetness all compact if some of Bartholomew Yongefs tiresome contributions were omitted.h –A.H. Bullen (ed.), Shorter Elizabethan Poems (Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co., 1903), p. ix.  Harold H. Child, in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (1907-21; Vol. IV; VI. eThe Song-Books and Miscellaniesf) writes of gthe laborious Bartholomew Yongh and describes his entries in Englandfs Helicon as gThe only blot on the collection.h (8 and 5 respectively).

[5] Quoted in Rollins ed. (1935), II:35.

[6] John Garrett Underhill, Spanish Literature in the England of the Tudors (New York: Columbia University Press, 1899), pp. 286-87.

[7] For example, in Thomas Underdownefs Aethiopian History (1587), intro. Charles Whibley 1895, p. xxiii. This is the opinion of a critic who believes that poetry must be translated as prose.

[8] Elizabethan Lyrics (London: George G. Harrap  & Co., 1966), p. 30.

[9] Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica, a descriptive catalogue of rare English poetry, compiled by Acton Frederick Griffith (London: Thomas Davison, 1815).  The quotation is taken from a newspaper cutting pasted inside the ULL copy of Yong 1598.  The context is gShakesperiana.h

[10] A History of Spanish Literature (London: John Murray, 1849), 3 Vols.  The quotation is from III, p. 38.  Ticknorfs scholarship may be called into question – he believes that gGeorge ofh Montemayorfs text was called Diana Enamorada and was first printed in 1542 – but this does not entail an immediate rejection of his critical judgement.  What is important is to consider the criteria he employs to reach this judgement; the adjective ghappyh and his praise of the beauty of Montemayorfs poetry (III, p. 40) are instructive in this regard.

[11] eThe Spanish Pastoral Romancesf in PMLA 7:3 (1892), pp. 1-119 (p.24, fn. 41).  In passing, we may note that eturning the verse intof is a highly evocative phrase when restored to its literal meaning: the turn at the end of the line that lies at the etymology of everse.f  The ability to eturn a linef is one of the prerequisites of a poet.  The re-turn journey from figurative usage – the return to origin through etymology – is often fascinating; it reminds us of the reason behind words.

[12] James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, A History of Spanish Literature (London: William Heinemann, 1898), p. 205.

[13] Vol. 201: No. 412, pp. 313-337.

[14] This latter poem appears in J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson (eds), Poetry of the English Renaissance 1509-1600 (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc., 1929; reprinted 1957), together with eYoung shepherd, turn aside and movef on p.201f.  The date of Yongfs Diana is misprinted as 1589 on p.952.

[15] On this production of gpoor abused eBar. Young,fh Saintsbury writes: gPoetically, of course, it is no great thing – hardly anything at all.  But the gtwisth of the metre has, to my ear, a rather remarkable effectch –A History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present Day 3 Vols. (London: Macmillan, 1908), II:133, fn.2.

[16] Walter W. Greg, Pastoral poetry and pastoral drama (New York: Russell and Russell, 1959 [1906]): gthe whole forms a not unworthy Tudor translation.h (p. 141).

[17] In Revue Hispanique L (1920), pp. 367-418.  Only the First Book remains, in a manuscript Wilson presented to Fulke Greville between 1614 and 1620. –Kennedy (1968), p. xxxi.  Some of the poems that Wilson translated can also be found in Rollinsf edition of Englands Helicon, in the notes to Nos. 75, 80, 94 (with Sidneyfs version) and 103.

[18] Quoted in Rollins ed. (1935), II:36.

[19] As with many of the introductions in the eTudor Translationsf series, one cannot help feeling that it is the language of the time – of eShakespearefs Englandf – that the editor is praising rather than that particular translatorfs use of language.  Hence Sir Edward Sullivan (intro. to Pettiefs Guazzo, 2 Vols., London: Constable & Co, 1925) considers the faults of Guazzo, who wrote gin the language of his day,h to disappear in Pettiefs gfine Elizabethan vivacity and graceh (I:xii, n.1.)  The notion that a translation can surpass its original is here conditioned by the belief that late 16th century English was enjoying its heyday, while the Italian of that time was in decline.

[20] In 1924 Harrison had submitted a PhD entitled eThe Diana of George of Montemayor by Bartholomew Yong and its Influence in Renaissance England.f

[21] Rollins ed. (1935), II:36.  Gustav Ungerer (Anglo-Spanish Relations in Tudor England. Bern: Francke Verlag, 1956) considered Sidneyfs translations to be gmasterful,h in contrast to Yongfs gdull and clumsyh versions of these two poems.  The criticism is not exaggerated; these poems reveal the limitations of Yongfs poetic capability.

[22] Diana enamorada (1564), Gaspar Gil Polo. Together with the English translation (1598) by Bartholomew Yong; eds. Raymond L. Grismer and Mildred B. Grismer (Minneapolis: Burgess Pub. Co., 1959).

[23] Dorothy Schuchman McCoy, Tradition and Innovation. A Study of Periphrasis in English Pastoral Poetry from 1557-1715 (London/The Hague/Paris: Mouton & Co, 1965), p. 31.  She refers to Yongfs gwooden translationsh (p.10), criticises him on pp. 30-33 and p. 52, and gives him a brief and indifferent mention on p. 140, p. 211 and p. 240 (there is no index).  She refers to eMontemayorfs Diana Enamoradaf (sic) on p. 30.

[24] Randall (1963), p. 79.  Randall considers Yongfs prose to be adequate, and his translation destined to be read only by students.

[25] That is, his reputation as a translator of poetry, rather than that of a translator of prose. –Gustav Ungerer, eBartholomow Yong. Mannerist Translator of Spanish Pastoral Romancesf in ES 54 (1973), pp. 439-446 (442-443).  Kennedy is, however, often uncertain about this aspect of Yongfs work: she states that the appeal of the Diana lies (less so in translation) in the poetry. –p.xxviii.  Interestingly, in her article on Montemayor in the Spenser Encyclopedia (1990), she does not name Yong.

[26] Ungerer (1973), p. 439.

[27] For example, Merritt Lawlis in Shakespeare Studies 5 (1969), pp. 337-339, and H.D. Purcell in what is more of an eIntroduction/Editor Reviewf in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 46 (1969), 250-251.  An exception is Patricia OfConnell in Studies 57 (1968), pp. 342-343, who praises Yongfs gmusical and delicate renderingsh and grefined and polished style.h  She also prints eLove is not blinde.f  However, it must be borne in mind that this same reviewer, on the previous page, denied the value of literary translations, claiming that they represent a mere expedient and are of value only in the study of sources.

[28] Gil Polofs novel does form a natural progression from Montemayorfs; they first appeared together in a Spanish edition of 1886. -La Diana de Jorge de Montemayor : seguida de la Diana enamorada / por Gaspar Gil Polo. Barcelona: Biblioteca clásica española, 1886.

[29] The earliest criticism is that of Cervantes, in Don Quixote.  In the perusal of the Donfs library in Book I, Chapter 6, the parson remarks: gPues la del Salmantino [Pérezfs sequel] c acompañe y acreciente el número de los condenados al corral, y la de Gil Polo se guarde como si fuera del mismo Apolo.h –El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Madrid: Ediciones Castilla, 1960), p. 55. –In Sheltonfs translation (I, 61): gLet that of Salamanca c augment the number of the condemned in the yard, and that of Gil Polo be kept as charily, as if it were Apollo his own work.h  Montemayorfs novel is saved because it has gla hora de ser primero en semejantes librosh – and this raises some interesting points when we consider how various translators render gprimero.h  Shelton, and Shelton alone, gives it gthe honour of being the best of that kinde.h  We may assume that he is more closely acquainted with the work, or with its reputation, than later translators.  Charles Jervas/Jarvis (1742: Oxford University Press, 1907, I:50) translates: gthe first in that kind of writing.h  H.E. Watts (1895. London: Adam & Charles Black, I:88) has gthe first among such books,h and Robinson Smith (1932. New York: Hispanic Society of America, I.60) gives gthe first book of its kind.h  These two translators may be thought to have captured the ambiguity of the original; however, they append notes, seemingly influenced by Diego Clemencínfs (1765-1834) exhaustive commentary (included in the Spanish edition cited), which state that it was the first in Spain, having been preceded by Sannazaro.  Samuel Putnam (1967. New York: Viking Press, p. 56) leaves nothing to chance: gthe first and best among books of its kind.h  Here we see the effects of commentary and duplication, as well as the anxious attempt to catch meaning with both hands, to use a second vessel to collect the surplus from the first and avoid spillage.

[30] Don Quixote (eThe Licentiate Alonso Fernañdez de Avellaneda,f 1614) and Guzman de Alfarache (Mateo Lujan de Sayavedra, 1602) provide other examples.

[31] Angel Valbuena Prat (Historia de la Literatura Española. 4 Vols. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 7th ed., 1964) accuses him of pedantic accumulation (I:719, fn.1).  The same adjective is found in Greg (1959[1906], see Note 16), p. 59.  Avalle-Arce, who actually takes the trouble to examine Pérezfs text, concludes that he fails to reconcile three currents: Montemayorfs pastoral novel; greco-latin literature; and Spanish romance literature. - La novela pastoril española (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1959), pp. 86-98.

[32] T.P. Harrison, eThe Faerie Queene and the Dianaf in PQ 9 (1930), pp. 51-56.

[33] Cesar Barja, Libros y Autores Clásicos, 4th ed. (New York: Las Americas, 1964), p. 211; Obras Completas de Shakespeare. Vol. II. Os Dois Cavalheiros de Verona. Trábalos de Amor Perdidos. Tradução de Carlos Alberto Nunes (Rio de Janeiro: Edições de Ouro, 1966), uses the rather meaningless term gtraduzida em várias línguash for Montemayor [p.5]. 

[34] R.W. Zandvoort, Sidneyfs Arcadia.  A Comparison between the Two Versions (Amsterdam: N.V. Swets and Zeitlinger, 1929), p. 193.  The paper was called eShakspere and Euphuism. Euphues an adaptation from Guevara.f

[35] When three manuscripts of this text came to light. –William A. Ringler Jr., The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), p. 364.

[36] For example, in Walter R. Davisfs Sidneyfs Arcadia (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1965); he relies on Yongfs translation.  In Robert Eril Levine, A Comparison of Sidneyfs Old and New Arcadia (Universität Salzburg: 1974), the eWorks consultedf section on p.121 reads: gMontemayor, George of. eDianaf ed. J.M. Kennedy.h  This omission is all the more noticeable because other minor translators – William Burton, who translated Achilles Tatiusfs Clitophon and Leucippe (1597), and Thomas Underdowne, who englished Heliodorus (An Aethiopian History) in 1587 – are both named.

[37] Sir Philip Sidney (Cambridge: University Press, 1977), p. 126.