Australian Journal of French Studies

French-to-Australian Translation: Travellers of the Later Nineteenth Century

Australian Journal of French Studies (2020), 57, (1), 103–114.


This article examines accounts left by a number of French travellers to Australia between c. 1850–80, and investigates their experience of a clash of cultures as related through essays, memoirs, and journalistic writings. In their encounter with Australia, the French see themselves as irreconcilably different from the British settler whose ubiquitous presence is an irritant yet a constant focus. The old cross-Channel neighbour is judged and, although occasionally admired, often found to be lacking the finer Gallic sensibilities, and to be deficient in taste and style when it comes to architecture, food, drink, clothes, or even the theatre. The colonization of Australia by the British has, for French travellers, transformed the far country into a land distinctly less amenable to the translation of French culture and values. Despite Australia’s openness to travellers, and notwithstanding some accounts of successful settlement, the article concludes that French-to-Australian translation is far from a wholly positive experience during this period.

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