Journal Article

‘A Credible Omen of a More Glorious Event’: Sir Charles Cotterell's Cassandra

Philip Major

in The Review of English Studies

Volume 60, issue 245, pages 406-430
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0034-6551
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1471-6968 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/res/hgn161
‘A Credible Omen of a More Glorious Event’: Sir Charles Cotterell's Cassandra

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  • Literary Studies (Postcolonial Literature)
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One of the most prevalent modes of writing in the English Revolution was romance translation, yet relatively few detailed studies of such works have been undertaken. This article explores the personal, political and psychological influences in Sir Charles Cotterell's Cassandra (1652), a translation of La Calprenède's prose romance, Cassandre (1642–9). It examines the work in the context of the widespread popularity of the romance genre in mid-seventeenth-century England, and considers the linguistic skills that Cotterell deployed, skills already demonstrated in his translation (with William Aylesbury) of Davila's Storia delle guerre civili di Francia (1630). It is most fundamentally concerned with locating Cassandra within the contemporary political climate of the early 1650s, when the royalist cause with which Cotterell sided was at its lowest ebb, and with setting it against the background of exile in Antwerp. It appraises the significance of the royal request to carry out the translation, and shows how this was imaginatively incorporated by Cotterell into an explicitly partisan dedication. The monarchical and pseudo-historical nature of La Calprenède's plots and characterisation meant that Cotterell's translation could remain rigorously faithful. This betrays telling complexities and ambiguities in royalist responses to defeat, though it fails to weaken the impression that Cassandra was a strategically aggressive act of cultural appropriation.

Journal Article.  11606 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Postcolonial Literature) ; Literary Studies (American) ; Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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