|Family Name:||Le Fèvre|
|Death Date:||Fri, Aug 16, 1720|
|Main places of activity:||
As a translator, Le Fèvre maintains the rigorous approach of Renaissance humanists, believing in the superiority of classical models over contemporary literature. This perspective led her to choose prose over poetry when translating Latin or Greek verse into vernacular French, to convey the most exact meaning of her sources without renouncing formal elegance. Faithful to René Le Bossu's and Aristotle's sets of rules for epic narrative, Le Fèvre defends the use of metaphors and allegories to reflect higher moral truths, against the rationalising tendencies of Cartesian philosophy. When translating the heroic exploits of the past, Le Fèvre admittedly actualised the relevance of classical examples to modern society, for instance drawing parallels between the values contained in Homer's poems and the precepts of the Bible. Le Fèvre often found in her préfaces the space to address contemporary issues: the translation of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, for instance, intervenes in the debates on religious toleration after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes forced Lefèvre and her husband to leave Paris.
Le Fèvre met an extraordinary success, her clear translations being reprinted in Paris, Lyon and Amsterdam several times during the eighteenth century and, in the case of her version of Homer, becoming classics themselves until 1817. Her work as a cultural mediator and translator between the ancient and modern worlds contributed greatly to the dissemination of Latin and Greek classics in France: as she put it herself, "je n'écris pas pour les savants qui lisent Homère en sa langue; ils le connoissent mieux que moy: j'écris pour ceux qui ne le conoissent point, c'est à dire, pour le plus grand nombre" (preface to the Iliad). Alexander Pope made use of Le Fèvre's translation of the Iliad to prompt his own (1715), also importing some of the terms of the querelle d'Homère on the other side of the Channel (see other writings).
Despite the fact that her traditionalist attitude led several scholars to label her as an austere ideological defender of the ancients against modernity, Le Fèvre profited from the transformations that French society was undergoing, which gradually accepted women as part of the cultural conversations of the salons and epistolary exchanges of the république des lettres.
secondary bibliography references
Fern Farnham, Madame Dacier: Scholar and Humanist, Angel Press, 1976.
Emmanuel Bury, 'Madame Dacier', in Femmes savantes, savoirs de femmes: Du crépuscule de la Renaissance à l’aube des Lumières, ed. by Colette Navitel, Droz, 1999, 209-20.
Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, ed., La Collection Ad usum Delphini. L’Antiquité au miroir du Grand Siècle, ELLUG/Université Stendhal, 2000.
Fabienne Moore, 'Homer Revisited: Anne Le Fèvre Dacier’s Preface to Her Prose Translation of the Iliad in Early Eighteenth-Century France', Studies in the Literary Imagination, 33, n°2 (2000), 87-107.
Bruno Garnier, “Anne Dacier, un esprit moderne au pays des anciens,” in Portraits de traductrices, ed. by Jean Delisle, Presse universitaire d’Ottawa and Artois Presse universitaire, 2002, 13-54.
Julie Candler Hayes, 'Of Meaning and Modernity: Anne Dacier and the Homer Debate', in Strategic Rewriting, ed. by David Lee Rubin, Rookwood, 2002, 173-95.
Richard Morton, Examining Changes in the Eighteenth-Century French Translations of Homer’s Iliad by Anne Dacier and Houdar de La Motte, The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.
Marie-Pierre Krück, Poétique de la corruption chez Anne Dacier, Laval, Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2009.
Serena Cannavale, 'L'edizione callimachea di Anne Le Fèvre Dacier: gli epigrammi', Atene e Roma n. s. II, VI, 1-2 (2012), 43-60.
Karen Green, 'Early eighteenth-century debates: from Anne Dacier to Catharine Trotter Cockburn', in A History of Women's Political Thought in Europe, 1700–1800, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 14-42.
Helena Taylor, 'Polemical Translation, Translating Polemic: Anne Dacier's Rhetoric in the Homer Quarrel', The Modern Language Review , 116, n°1 (January 2021), 21-41.
John J. Conley, 'Anne Le Fèvre Dacier (1647-1720)', in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002, https://www.iep.utm.edu/, 2021.