Confined and Exposed: Elizabeth Carter’s Classical Translations

Jennifer WallaceUniversity of Cambridge
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Fall 2003), 315-334

This essay discusses the renowned classicist of eighteenth-century England, Elizabeth Carter, and argues for a consideration of Carter’s work, in contrast to prior critics, as ambiguous and problematic. Because women were generally proscribed from a classical education and the few rarefied women who managed such an education against the odds were proclaimed marvels, Carter struggled with the dilemmas of her unusual, sometimes troubling position. Moreover, the lessons of pagan authors often contradicted Christian teachings, and these variant pedagogies proved difficult to reconcile no matter how canny one’s choices of ancient authors for translation (as Carter’s certainly were). This essay shows Carter struggling with the resulting tensions both in the course of her career and within individual translations.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]