Harrison Co-edits New Translation and Examination of La Princesse de Clèves
A translation and critical examination of the first modern French novel
La Princesse de Clèves, written in 1678 by the countess of Lafayette, Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, is widely known as the first modern French novel. Professor of French David Harrison is one of the editors of a new translation and critical examination of the novel, titled La Princesse de Clèves by Lafayette: A New Translation and Bilingual Pedagogical Edition for the Digital Age.
Harrison says that he and his co-editors, Hélène E. Bilis, Jean-Vincent Blanchard, and Hélène Visentin, designed the volume with French language and culture learners in mind. The text provides a bilingual edition to foreground French literary and linguistic content and encourage students’ reflection on Harrison’s new translation of the novel
Harrison says, “My colleagues and I — all from liberal arts colleges — want to make this rich, 17th-century French novel accessible to a new generation of students and faculty working in the digital humanities. In keeping with the ethos of Lever Press, the edition is completely free, so it can be used by as wide a variety of readers as possible.”
The book offers a rich variety of pedagogical dossiers with a wide range of resources and approaches for teaching and exploring La Princesse de Clèves in a 21st-century classroom. Translator’s notes compare the current translation with earlier editions and shed light on the socio-cultural context of Lafayette’s time.
Harrison points out that part of the edition — the translation of a French 17th-century gazette that publicized the novel at its first appearance — was completed as a Mentored Advanced Project with two advanced students in the Grinnell French program, Patrick Sheehan-Klenk ’19 and Acadia Broussard ’19.
Lever Press, the book’s publisher, is an open-access scholarly press operated in partnership by the Oberlin Group, Amherst College Press, and Michigan Publishing Services. A consortium of 54 liberal arts institutions of higher education, including founding member Grinnell College, supports the Lever Press. Librarian of the College Mark Christel is a member and past chair of the Lever Press Oversight Committee, and Associate Professor Hai-Dang Phan serves on the editorial board.
Harrison launched the project in 2015 when he helped develop and lead a workshop on teaching early modern France at Wellesley College.