La Florida del Inca and the Florida of the Others: The Multilingual Afterlives of Garcilaso's Florida
This dissertation examines three centuries of French and English translations of Peruvian historian Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s La Florida del Inca (1605), an account of the Hernando de Soto expedition (1539-1544) across present-day Cuba, the southeastern United States, and Mexico. Garcilaso’s history stands out from the work of other Renaissance and early modern Hispanophone historians because he devotes more than half his text to narrating the words and actions of the Indigenous people he imagines based on written and oral eyewitness accounts of the expedition from Spanish soldiers. Early French and English translations of this work were printed at nearly four times the rate of Spanish editions, but they have been overlooked partly because they don’t conform to contemporary translation conventions and because some translators choose to present their recreations of Garcilaso’s text as their own original work. Analyzing the work of the translators, printers, booksellers, engravers, and other scholars and artisans who move Garcilaso’s text across spaces and audiences reveals that Garcilaso had a much greater role in shaping perceptions of American people, history, and space in Francophone and Anglophone traditions than has previously been imagined.
The dissertation begins with an overview of the geopolitical factors and print cultures that spurred the movement of La Florida del Inca and its translations across early modern and nineteenth-century Atlantic worlds. It then presents detailed case studies of the work of several important translators in the history of La Florida del Inca’s Francophone and Anglophone afterlives: Pierre Richelet (1626-1698), Jean-Fr�d�ric Bernard (1680-1744), and Theodore Irving (1809-1880). Taken separately, their translations redefine the parameters of Florida and negotiate relationships of identification, antipathy, and forgetfulness with the European and Indigenous figures described in the source text. Taken together, their translations illuminate alternatives to the omissions and silences imposed on Garcilaso’s text during its long reception history and produce invigorated, engaged readings of La Florida del Inca.