But I soon found editions of Morris’ translations of the Old French Ami et Amile, published through the Kelmscott Press as Of the friendship of Amis and Amile, which, according to the colophon, was “Done out of the ancient French into English by William Morris”.I had previously been aware of Morris’ translations of Norse epics, including the Völsunga Saga, with Eiríkir Magnusson, published in 1870, and some songs from the Elder Edda, translated between 1870 and 1871. May Morris gave her father’s manuscript including these translations to the British Library – Additional MS. 45318. But I didn’t know that he had translated works from Old French and Latin; having since read his Amis and Amile, and other Old French translations, they read well but I’ve not yet read any of his Latin translations.
Today’s Victorian Vendredi is about the Pre-Raphaelites’ translation work because of some discoveries I made yesterday while preparing for my research trip in Toronto at the end of this month. When I was in Toronto in October 2011, I visited the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at Toronto University, with other delegates at the Ninth International Conference on the Book. We saw many of the library’s highlights, but there remains so much to see. I have been looking at the collections recently to prepare for my visit, and made another discovery about the Pre-Raphaelites’ translation work. As with Morris having translated Norse texts, I knew that Dante Gabriel Rossetti had produced translations of medieval Italian authors, in particular Dante Alighieri. Yesterday I discovered his name assigned as author, alongside Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Ernest Henley, and John Payne, of a translation of François Villon’s poetry. I can’t tell from the catalogue record if Rossetti illustrated the poems, or if he was involved in the written translation, but I look forward to finding out more. Of course, illustration is a form of translation in its own right; if it proves that Rossetti provided the illustrations to this volume, I’m looking forward to comparing them to his Moxon Tennyson illustrations, and the illustration work of his fellow artists. In the meantime, I need to find where I’ve put my copy of Villon’s poetry in its original French.