VTU Review: Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences
“ST. CYRIL AND ST. METHODIUS” UNIVERSITY OF VELIKO TARNOVO - UNIVERSITY PRESS

Acts of Intercultural and Interlingual Mediation in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters


Authors:
Ludmilla Kostova St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Pages: 11-23
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54664/OENQ8789

Abstract:

The article focuses on acts of intercultural and interlingual mediation and representations of language difference in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s posthumously published epistolary travelogue The Turkish Embassy Letters (1763). Montagu was probably the most important woman traveller to visit the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. Having acquired first-hand knowledge of upper-class life in the empire, she strove to dispel prejudice and change her readers’ attitudes to Islam and Ottoman social mores. To achieve those ends, Montagu takes up the role of an intercultural and interlingual mediator in her epistolary travelogue. However, while stressing her own autonomous cultural and linguistic performance within the foreign context, she erases, or minimizes, the role of less privileged agents of mediation, such as hired guides and interpreters, who must have helped her communicate effectively with her Ottoman hosts. This simplifies her representations of otherwise complex intercultural encounters and seriously problematizes her claim to the authenticity of her account of the Ottoman Empire, which she regards as its distinguishing characteristic. In my analysis of Montagu’s representations of mediation and language difference, I rely on theoretical texts reflecting the “cultural turn” in translation and interpreting studies as well as on other writing analysing intercultural dialogue and multilingualism.

Keywords:

Mary Wortley Montagu, epistolary travel writing, intercultural mediation, interlingual mediation, representations of language difference

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