Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Previous Translations of the Month

December 2021

Beowulf. Translated by Meghan Purvis. Penned in the Margins, 2013. ISBN 9781908058140.

Pendant Amulet in the Shape of a Woman, Possibly a Valkyrie
Silver pendant amulet of a woman carrying a cup, possibly a valkyrie, Viking, circa 950- 1000 CE.
Swedish Historical Museum, 108864
(Source: Swedish Historical Museum, CC 2.5 ). Feminae record.

"This is a story about coming and going. This is a story about the sea...

A warrior sets sail for a distant land, to a once great hall plagued by a murderous enemy – the monster Grendel. Can the hero Beowulf defeat his bloody-thirsty foe, save the Geats from being wiped off the map, and claim his just rewards?

The Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf is brought to life in a vigorous, contemporary translation by American poet Meghan Purvis. Written across a range of poetic forms and voices, this rendering captures the thrust and gore of battle, the treasures of the mead-hall, and the sinister dens and moorlands of Dark Age Denmark. Combining faithful translation with innovative versions and poems from alternative viewpoints, Purvis has created an exciting new interpretation of Beowulf – full of verve and the bristle of language." — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

Meghan Purvis: On Translating Beowulf.

Beowulf: A New Translation. Translated by Maria Dahvana Headley. MCD x FSG, 2020. ISBN 9780374110031.

"A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novel The Mere Wife.

Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world—there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.

A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history—Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation." — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

Radical Translations: Maria Dahvana Headley in conversation with Emily Wilson, and Madeline Miller, September 16, 2020. Organized by the Center for Fiction.

November 2021

Alfie, Fabian. "La Compiuta Donzella of Florence (ca. 1260): The Complete Poetry." Medieval Feminist Forum. Subsidia Series v. 10. Medieval Texts in Translation 7. (2019). Available on the Medieval Feminist Forum website with a subscription: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/mff/vol55/iss3/1/ In 2022 the text will become available open access.

Talbot Master, Erithrean Sibyl writing, De claris mulieribus
Talbot Master, Erithrean Sibyl writing, De claris mulieribus- Chapter XXI, France, c. 1440 British Library, Royal MS 16 G V, fol. 23r (Source: British Library, Public domain)

"The current study represents the first complete translation into English of the poetry of the thirteenth-century Italian poet La Compiuta Donzella; it also includes all the extant texts addressed to her. The author of three extant sonnets, La Compiuta Donzella combined the conventions of courtly love poetry with emotional reflections about women’s lived experience in medieval Florence.” — [Opening lines reproduced from the author's introduction on the journal's website]
Two Sonnets by La Compiuta Donzella di Firenze
Correspondence between an anonymous poet and La Compiuta Donzella of Florence
Two Sonnets addressed to La Compiuta Donzella by Mastro Torrigiano di Firenze
Three sonnets addressed to La Compiuta Donzella by Maestro Rinuccino di Firenze
Letter from Guittone d’Arezzo to La Compiuta Donzella

All sections include facing page Italian texts.

October 2021

Le Bone Florence of Rome: A Critical Edition and Facing Translation of a Middle English Romance Analogous to Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale. Edited by Jonathan Stavsky. New Century Chaucer series. University of Wales Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781786830630 (paperback).

"Le Bone Florence of Rome is a Middle English tail-rhyme romance whose unique copy dates to the late fifteenth century. An analogue of Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale, it follows the adventures of a heroine who survives multiple exiles, sexual harassments and false accusations. At the same time, it explores such issues as the abuse of power, the stakes of global conflict, women’s place in society and their control over their destiny, all of which are treated in significantly different ways from the Constance story and other medieval tales of calumniated women. This fresh edition is accompanied by a complete line-by-line translation, which makes this text accessible to readers at all levels. Its introduction offers a comprehensive analysis of the themes, ideologies and literary relationships of the romance, together with new insights into its local connections and a detailed description of its manuscript context." — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

September 2021

"The Religion of the Heart of the Abbey of the Holy Ghost." Translated by Janice Pinder. The Abbaye du Saint Esprit: Spiritual Instruction for Laywomen, 1250-1500. By Janice Pinder. Medieval Women: Texts and Contexts, Volume 21. Brepols, 2020. ISBN: 9782503586816 (print).

La Sainte Abbaye
God in Majesty above with a Cistercian abbess, nuns and novices below, "La Sainte Abbaye," British Library, Yates Thompson MS 11, fol. 1v (Source: Europeana, Public domain)

"Study and edition of a key text of French vernacular theology that had a significant impact in English translation. The Abbaye du Saint Esprit was a successful work of vernacular spiritual advice for women, surviving in sixteen manuscripts and a widely copied Middle English translation. Unlike many other didactic religious texts, it offers few prescriptions for behaviour; rather, it instructs the reader to build a convent of virtues in her conscience and uses the allegorical structure of the building and its inhabitants to arrange brief teachings on prayer and virtuous practice. Between its genesis in the last quarter of the thirteenth century to its final development towards the end of the fifteenth, it was reworked several times for new audiences of women both lay and cloistered, bourgeois and aristocratic. The examination of these successive adaptations offers insights into the growth of lay religious culture, the participation of women in new religious movements, and the use and transformation of twelfth and early thirteenth-century monastic formation literature for new audiences.

This book also offers, for the first time, editions of all the French versions of the Abbaye and a modern English translation of the earliest version.” — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

May 2021 [Posted August 2021]

The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas in Late Antiquity. By Stephanie L. Cobb (editor and translator) and Andrew S. Jacobs (translator). University of California Press, 2021. ISBN: 9780520379039 (print); 9780520976498 (online)

Felicitas and Perpetua in a procession of virgin martyrs
Felicitas and Perpetua in a procession of virgin martyrs, mosaic, mid-sixth c., Ravenna, Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (Source: flickr, Photo by Lawrence OP, Creative Commons 2.0 license)

"This volume gathers all available evidence for the martyrdoms of Perpetua and Felicitas, two Christian women who became, in the centuries after their deaths in 203 CE, revered throughout the Roman world. Whereas they are now known primarily through a popular third-century account, numerous lesser known texts attest to the profound place they held in the lives of Christians in late antiquity. This book brings together narratives in their original languages with accompanying English translations, including many related entries from calendars, martyrologies, sacramentaries, and chronicles, as well as artistic representations and inscriptions. As a whole, the collection offers readers a robust view of the veneration of Perpetua and Felicitas over the course of six centuries, examining the diverse ways that a third-century Latin tradition was appreciated, appropriated, and transformed as it circulated throughout the late antique world.” — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

April 2021 [Posted July 2021]

Mǫrtu saga ok Maríu Magðalenu / The Saga of Martha and Mary Magdalen. Edited and translated by Natalie M. Van Deusen. The Saga of the Sister Saints: The Legend of Martha and Mary Magdalen in Old Norse-Icelandic Translation. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2019. Studies and Texts 214. ISBN: 9780888442147 (print).

Bowl with Bahram Gur and Azada

"This book examines the cults and legends of Martha and Mary Magdalen in medieval Scandinavia, especially Iceland. While a number of parallels may be drawn between Iceland and mainland Scandinavia in terms of liturgical and artistic representations of Martha and Mary Magdalen, the Old Norse-Icelandic literary tradition stands apart from its Scandinavian counterparts in the cultural significance and relevance it gives to each of the "sister saints" in medieval Iceland, where the composite Mǫrtu saga ok Maríu Magðalenu was compiled in the mid-fourteenth century.

The historical study that opens the volume treats the manuscripts and Latin sources of the saga, lending insight into authorship and provenance; it also details representations of Martha and Mary Magdalen in liturgical materials, art, and literature from medieval Scandinavia, before turning to the saints' cults and legends in medieval Iceland.

All the available evidence for the "sister saints" in Iceland from its Christianization in 1000 until around the time of the Reformation in 1550 is analyzed in detail, especially evidence from church inventories (máldagar) but also from literary works in prose and verse, as well as from charters and letters. Special attention is given to issues of style and content in the saga and, in particular, to views on women preachers in medieval Iceland.

The book concludes with a normalized edition of the only complete redaction of Mǫrtu saga ok Maríu Magðalenu, followed by its first English translation." — [Reproduced from the publisher's website]

March 2021 [Posted June 2021]

"Epic of the Commander Dhat al-Himma." Introduced, edited and translated by Melanie Magidow. Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 54, 3 (2019). Subsidia Series 9. Medieval Texts in Translation 6. Available open access.

Bowl with Bahram Gur and Azada
Bowl with Bahram Gur and Azada, figures in the Persian Shahnama, late 12th-early 13th century, Iranian, New York, Metropolitan Museum (Metropolitan Museum, Public domain).

"The following text is extracted from the longest extant Arabic sira or epic, Sirat al-amira Dhat al-Himma, meaning "Epic of the Commander Dhat al-Himma." The term amira, here translated "commander" can also be translated as "princess," "warrior woman," or "lady," among other possibilities. It is a noun of feminine gender, and it signifies a title of respect and a position of authority. As for the name Dhat al-Himma, it could be translated very literally as "she of ambition," or alternatively, "resolve," "perseverance," or "valor." This is a nickname the heroine earns through success in her adventures. At birth, she was named Fatima, but as a hero, she became the amira, Dhat al-Himma. This is her story, her sira. This epic also contains the stories of many more people, but Dhat al-Himma stands out as the most prominent character in the epic. The excerpt published here is the coming-of-age portion of her story.” — [From the introduction by Emily Magidow]

Ikone der Heiligen Eudokia, Einlegearbeit in Stein und Elfenbein, 10. Jh.Indexers select a translation each month that is significant in the ideas it presents.  This gives users an opportunity to see a range of newly translated medieval works of importance for women’s and gender studies.  It also will build an archive of references to translations that will be useful as classroom readings.

Depending upon the content, an entire work may be indexed as a single title like the vita of a saint or the collected cartularies of a countess.  But in many cases the translation deals only in part with issues involving women and gender.  In those instances, indexing goes to a deeper level, identifying and describing specific sections within a text.  For example, there are 93 records for pertinent sections in the Siete Partidas.

To see more translations, go to the Advanced Search Page  and put “Translation” in the Article Type box.  Add specific terms to Keyword, Century or Geographical Area as needed.

There are currently over 1800 records for translations in Feminae.  There are also over 300 records for editions in original languages.

Feminae welcomes unpublished translations and editions that authors may wish to make available.

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