Gedwongen tot specialismen. Uitgevers van Franse romans in Nederland, 1790-1899

Toos Streng


Most research on the reception of foreign literature takes an author-focused approach. In this article I elaborate on the opportunities created by the combination of an institutional and genre-focused approach. In the 19th century, Dutch translations of French novels were relatively rare. This is by and large explained by the fact that many Dutch readers were able to appreciate these novels in their original language. The funds of the 65 most prominent Dutch publishing houses from 1790 – 1899 indicate that, beginning in 1840, two categories of publishers can be distinguished: those which translated French novels and those that did not. Translations from French were published largely by those publishers serving the lower social class of literary society (more specifically: circulating libraries of lower social status). Most publishing houses that chose not to translate French novels did so not because such translations were superfluous but because they were deemed undesirable by the bourgeois cultural elite who believed that ‘the French novel’ should only be read by those who could read it in its original language. This changed gradually after 1870, when besides reading societies and circulating libraries a new clientele emerged: the individual buyer.

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© Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde | ISSN (print): 0040-7550 | eISSN (online): 2212-0521