On the Conscious Source of Caroline de Lichtfield

According to Joan Hinde Stewart, "Sensibility with Irony: Mme de Montolieu at the End of an Era," Kentucky Romance Quarterly, 25 (1978), p. 481, the conscious inspiration for the novel was "a short story by Antoine Wall published in 1783 in the periodical Les Bagatelles."

This short story was translated into French by Nicolas de Bonneville as "Albertine," and published in a collection entitled Choix de petits romans, imités de l'allemand in 1786. "Albertine" was almost immediately re-translated in such a way as to "adapt it to the taste of the English Reader" as "Albertina: An Anecdote Extracted from the Secret History of the Court of ---", and appeared in Town and Country, XVIII (October 1786) - XIX (January 1787) in 4 parts; in Edinburgh (2), IV (December 1786); in Universal, LXXXV (July - August 1789), 2 parts; and in Weekly Entertainer, XIV (September 28 - October 5, 1789), 2 parts. "Albertine" reappeared a few years later in another free translation or "unacknowledged plagiarism of Bonneville's Albertine" as Louisa, A Prussian Tale in Gleaner, I (1805), 87-97, 1 part.

The editor of the Universal replied to a reader who had complained of plagiarism:

Eliza is mistaken in her assertion that the story of Albertina in our Magazine for July and August is an Extract of Caroline de Lichtfield; on the contrary, the Author of that work has founded his [sic] Novel, without acknowledging the Circumstance, on the German original of Albertina, extending it by a number of Incidents, like the Variations in a favourite Tune" (LXXXV, p. 279)

See Robert D. Mayo, The English Novel in the Magazines, 1740 - 1815, with a catalogue of 1375 magazine novels and novelettes (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1962), Nos. 76 - 78, pp. 450-51 and No 815, p. 547; and The English Novel, 1770-1729: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, edd. James Raven, Antonia Forster, and Stephen Bending (Oxford: At the University Press, 2000), 1786:34, pp. 385- 86.

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