Renæssanceforum 12 • 2017
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Eigil Vinje
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How to Make the Reader Reflect
Ludvig Holberg's Memoirs, originally written in Latin, appeared in Danish translation 1745. The translation has some substantial deviations from the original text. One is comprehensive: A section of moral essays has been removed allegedly because reflections of this kind did not fit into the pattern of an autobiography. Some pages containing satire against people of exaggerated pious sentiment are also removed, probably for fear of censorship. And, finally, there is a deletion of three words which turns Holberg's statement on the Hugenot Pierre Bayle upside down. Bayle's paradoxes, says Holberg, "have given just offense to Christians; good are mixed with bad, and those which are not true are made plausible by the dexterity of the writer…". The translation stops her, but the original text has something more to say: "... and thus gives the reader food for thought" (& ingenia exercent).