Authorship and Authority:

Barking Abbey and Its Texts

Martin E. Segal Theater

CUNY Graduate Center, September 11, 2009

“Translating Edward: How the Nun of Barking and Matthew Paris reshape an Anglo-Saxon King”

Jennifer Brown, University of Hartford

This paper will look closely at both the linguistic and cultural translation that takes place from the Latin vita of Edward the Confessor by Aelred of Rievaulx  into the Anglo-Norman vies written by the anonymous Nun of Barking and Matthew Paris. Although the Nun claims that her text is basically a simple translation from Latin into Anglo-Norman, it becomes quickly apparent that there is more than a linguistic translation taking place. For example, she adds quite a bit about a miracle that takes place in Edward’s name at Barking Abbey, and she gives much more agency to Edward’s wife, Edith, than she had in Aelred’s version. In addition, she calls attention to her choice of language and what honor it does to her patron, Henry II. Matthew Paris likewise is doing more than a linguistic translation from text to text. His interests lie in honoring another patron, Henry III, but he also reshapes Edward from an Anglo-Saxon hero into an Anglo-Norman one.

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