About this book
This is the long-wanted essential modern edition of William Beckford’s Vathek with the Episodes of Vathek. The text of this edition is a new translation by the leading Beckford specialist. It corrects many earlier errors and presentations of Beckford’s great novel.
It translates into English the original French language texts of Vathek and Les Épisodes de Vathek, Professor Graham then interprets Beckford’s original edition of Vathek - the novel being first published in Lausanne in 1786 (although dated 1787) not in England. He also discursively discusses and the earliest manuscripts of the Épisodes, now housed among the Beckford Papers in the Bodleian Library.
As Professor Graham shows, previous translations originated from different eras and diverse translators, who were also mistaken in the manuscripts or editions they chose to translate.
The first translator of Les Épisodes, Sir Frank T. Marzials, worked with texts provided by Lewis Melville, who had found the manuscripts among the Beckford Papers, at that time in the hands of the Duke of Hamilton, a Beckford descendent.
There are a number of drafts of Les Épisodes among the Beckford Papers and Melville, understandably, chose the most clearly written drafts prepared for Beckford by an amanuensis in the late 1820s when Beckford was considering having them published. They were, however, too evocative of an old scandal that Beckford unavailingly wished forgotten. So they were put in storage with the rest of Beckford’s papers. That scandal was, however, much more obviously present in earlier drafts that Melville obligingly ignored.
Of Vathek, prior to this edition, two translations were published, one by Samuel Henley (1786) and the other by Herbert Grimsditch (1929). The translator, Samuel Henley, perpetrated an audacious fraud on Beckford’s manuscript, not only by publishing his translation without Beckford’s knowledge and permission, but also by imposing a system of changes on Beckford’s French text for purposes of parading his own scholarship. The only solution to faulty sources and faulty translations is to begin again with the most original documents. That is what this edition does.
Foreword. Vathek. The History of the Two Princes and Friends, Alasi and Firouz. The History of the Princess Zulkaïs and the Prince Kalilah. The History of Prince Barkiarokh. The Story of Homaïouna. Continuation of the Narrative of Barkiarokh. Story of Barkiarokh’s Younger Sister-in-Law. End of the Story of Barkiarokh’s Younger Sister-in-Law. The Story of Rouska, Barkiarokh’s Daughter.End of Rouska’s Story. Recommended Reading.
About the author
Kenneth Graham is professor emeritus at the University of Guelph in Canada and a bye-fellow of Robinson College in Cambridge. He has also served as exchange professor at Universität Konstanz in Germany. He holds degrees from the Royal Military College in Canada and University College London. He was named their “North American Scholar” by the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Previous publications include The Politics of Narrative (a 1990 study of Godwin’s Caleb Williams), Vathek and The Escape From Time (ed., 1990); William Godwin Renewed 1783-1834 (2001); William Beckford and the New Millenium (2004); and an edition of Vathek (published by Broadview Press, 2001).
He has also published on the Gothic novel, Fanny Burney’s Evelina, Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, Edmund Burke, Thomas Malthus, and, of course, Jane Austen.
Vathek and the Episodes of Vathek
Kenneth W. Graham
Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.
ISBN 9781912224579 Hardback £75.00 Order
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