Matthew Reynolds

Published On


Page Range

pp. 20–61


  • English

Print Length

42 pages

I. Prismatic Translation and Jane Eyre as a World Work

The chapter starts by giving a history of anglophone responses to Jane Eyre, both critical and creative, and arguing for the similar significance of translations: they too are interpretive acts that change the source text by their interpretation of it. It goes on to explain the pragmatic distinction between translations and other kinds of response that has been adopted in this volume: translations are taken as being published prose fiction texts that present themselves as being Jane Eyre in a different language. It then fleshes out this definition through a close reading of the 1849 French translation by ‘Old Nick’ (Paul Émile Daurand Forgues) and an account of other early translations. It concludes by building on Reynolds’s existing theory of prismatic translation to offer a definition of Jane Eyre as a world work – that is, as a work that is co-constituted by the English texts of Jane Eyre together with all their translations, and so as a work that is always changing while remaining continuous with itself.


Matthew Reynolds

Professor of English and Comparative Criticism at University of Oxford

Matthew Reynolds is Professor of English and Comparative Criticism at the University of Oxford, where he chairs the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre (OCCT). Among his books are Prismatic Translation (2019), Translation: A Very Short Introduction (2016), The Poetry of Translation: From Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue (2011), Likenesses (2013), The Realms of Verse: English Poetry in a Time of Nation-Building (2001), and the novels Designs for a Happy Home (2009) and The World Was All Before Them (2013). He is Chair of the International Comparative Literature Association’s Research Development Committee, General Editor of the Legenda book series Transcript, and a Member of the Academia Europaea.