In the United States of the first decades of the past century, the convergence of several processes helps explain the moderate triumph of European legal culture in the translations of fundamental texts. I came across this reality when I had the opportunity to study, quite some time back, the influence of François Gény on American jurisprudence for Paolo Grossi’s Quaderni Fiorentini. Thanks to the study “La fortuna de Gény en América”, I had a virtual encounter with two legal scholars with partially parallel lives and work, who had been active on both sides of the Atlantic. I am referring to Edouard Lambert (1866-1947) and John H. Wigmore (1863-1943).
I have already written something on Lambert, and, more importantly, I continue to entertain the idea of a project – more of an old man’s dream at this point – dedicated to narrating and interpreting his professional life as an expert in American law and founding father of legal comparison. As for his friend Wigmore, I do not think a similar effort would be that useful, as there already exists a good and well-documented biography of him1. Colonel Wigmore – as his own people knew him – was one of the most remarkable jurists of the Progressive Era: “a man who belonged to every club and society, and who meticulously clipped every reference to his activities in the most trivial of newletters” (Riles). Suffice to point out for our purposes here that this outstanding character – one of the men trained at Langdell’s Harvard, a novel professor in Japan and Dean of Law at Northwestern University for most of his long life – conceived an extensive programme of translations of European texts with the purpose of developing a genuinely American legal thought. While such objective was achieved around 1930 with the emergence of the well-known Legal Realism movement (Karl Llewllyn, Jerome Frank, Max Radin, Felix Frankfurter and many others of that generation), the translations of European works that were to serve as basis resulted in several collections and over thirty texts, with more or less dissemination2, which introduced the local public to some illustrious names and their most significant works. And so, a pioneering criminological series (The Modern Criminal Science Series, 1911-1917, 9 vols.) was soon followed by a historical-legal series (1912-1928, 10 vols.), a series dedicated to the philosophy of law (Modern Legal Philosophies Series, 1911-1925, 11 vols.), and, even, a colorful and brief collection of legal anthropology (The Evolution of Law, 1915-1918, 3 vols.)3. “The efforts of the committee of publication of The Legal Philosophy Series will furnish us new philosophic basis upon which to reconstruct our system or at least our methods”, opined one reader from the Michigan Law Review, “and The Continental Legal History Series will show us how other peoples have worked out their legal problems in an experimental way”4.
This occurred at a time when it was proclaimed at Harvard that the cultivation of legal knowledge was much more than a simple professional apprenticeship, when the manner in which legal education was organized in North America – in line with the scientific requirements of (other) university disciplines – had to be opened up to the West, and, last but not least, when a legal literature with theoretical aspirations was taking off in the United States. Under such circumstances, the idea of translating more than thirty volumes by selected European publicists turned out to be an ambitious undertaking that demanded energy and an extensive network of complicities5. The leading position of Wigmore, a central figure at the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), which always supported his initiatives, ensured him institutional support and collaboration, ranging from the editorial committee of each series to the translators, editors, authors of forewords and similar writings. The rest is the result of Wigmore’s international contacts, the fruit of his travels as well as a sustained correspondence6.
Although the time has come to analyse this editorial effort as a whole, I believe that such undertaking requires a study that I can only sketch out at present. Furthermore, my experience working on the criminological and historical series allows me to put forward a number of general questions that, as such, can apply to all the collections7. Such is the case of our present study on “A tradução como chave de análise das culturas jurídicas do passado”, as demonstrated by Ricardo M. Fonseca8. Still, we are more generally committed to analyzing, no more and no less, “les conditions sociales de la circulation internationale des idées”, which the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu initiatied some years ago. In his own words:
Les textes circulent sans leur contexte ; ils n’importent pas avec eux le champ de production dont ils sont le produit, et les récepteurs, étant eux-mêmes insérés dans un champ de production différent, les réinterprètent en fonction de leur position dans le champ de réception. Une science des relations internationales en matière de culture devrait dans chaque cas prendre pour objet la série d’opérations sociales impliquées, et notamment le processus de sélection (qu’est-ce qu’on publie, qui traduit, qui publie ?) et de marquage (maison d’édition, collection, préface, etc.). De telles analyses constituent un instrument indispensable pour combattre les malentendus de l’importation et pour favoriser une véritable internationalisation de la vie intellectuelle9.
In fact, this whole work on translation operates on a unsettling metaphor10. George Steiner’s (or Jorge Luis Borges’, if we wish to be rigorous) Tower of Babel symbolises the impossibility of mutual understanding, but it also reflects the inexhaustible richness of human thought. The tower thus becomes a library and can store, among all the possible combinations of the twenty-five alphabetical symbols, the globality of the universe; indeed, it contains a version of every book written in every language11. But there lies the cultural loss entailed by translation. Sure enough, the suppression of linguistic nuance is no small matter: eliminating the original language means abandoning a universe of references, academic traditions, and narrated facts that are well localized. And I am not referring here to the “treachery” that – according to an overly elementary understanding – supposedly underlies any translation, for as Steiner once more explains, the latter involves highly aggressive operations that entail a colossal appropriation of meanings:
We can modulate Heidegger’s insistence that understanding is not a matter of method but of primary being, that “being consists in the understanding of other being” into the more naive, limited axiom that each act of comprehension must appropriate another entity [we translate into]12.
Into English, for example. It was by no means surprising – as we shall see below – that the texts produced by Wigmore lacked even a model. From this perspective, any attempt to contrast the original work with its translation would be bound to fail, for American publishers-translators had no qualms about inventing the text. It seems even possible to go a little further and assert, by quoting Umberto Eco, that:
Toda traducción es producto del marco conceptual que le da lugar… desde [tal] perspectiva, se hace muy difícil reducir el fenómeno de la traducción a la cuestión de la fidelidad o de la equivalencia… Traducción es lo que en el contexto de destino se considera traducción… [El traductor] habrá de reconocer que esa consideración, esas normas que determinan qué se traduce y cómo se traduce… están muy lejos de ser imparciales y objetivas.
If we read the words of the Bolognese semiotician carefully, we can conclude that translation “produces” the “original” itself, to the extent required by the culture (time, place, language, style, function), of the host camp. Thus, if the process of “receiving” a text is what makes it possible to identify it as such, if the change of language fills the foreign discourse with new references, then the translation abandons its (apparently) minor role and enters fully into the realm of intellectual creation13.
A carefully selected catalogue of legal translations – comprehended, as a massive cultural operation, between the 19th and 20th centuries – would undoubtedly demonstrate that the above assertion is well grounded. Who would want to undertake to distinguish between “originals” and “translations” when booksellers themselves would blur the two? Take the example of Spanish publisher, José Lázaro (1862-1947), who asked his collaborators for
more than a rigorous translation, an adaptation, plagiarism as it were (but without omitting the name of the author, of course), that which one would do if he set out to copy a criminal code without it being known. I do not want German law translated, but a Spanish law that follows the method of a German author and uses everything that can be used of his thought, his words, etc. I do not know if I am explaining my thoughts well. To start with, I do not want any article of the German Code to be cited, because that can be very confusing14.
Consequently, it does not seem enough to compare the original work with its translation. The production of the text is surrounded by opaque operations that only thanks to a few happy circumstances, such as the preservation of the Wigmore’s Papers (or a few letters from Dorado Montero), we can document. On such happy occasions it becomes possible to answer Bourdieu’s questions about the selection (“qu’est-ce qu’on publie, qui traduit, qui publie?”) and the marquage (“maison d’édition, collection, préface, etc.”) of the books and ideas that are the subject of international transfer.
When I worked on The Modern Criminal Science Series, I tried, in a somewhat intuitive way, to address those challenges. I proposed a working strategy that I referred to at the time (à la Darton)15 as the “library effect”, in allusion to the transformations of those texts that acquire another language and come together under a new one, forming a collection16. Titles with different origins and that are radically different – notwithstanding the proximity of dates – due to the local framework of production, suffer with the linguistic leap, in first place, a violent process of standardization. “Each act of translation is an endeavour to abolish multiplicity and to bring different world-pictures back into perfect congruence”, writes Steiner of the complex maneuver behind translation17. This is particularly true in the case of Wigmore, whose English versions of European works not only announced, at the beginning of the 20th century, a loss of the linguistic variety of Italians, Germans, Spaniards, French, Dutch…. to the benefit of that “Anglo-American Esperanto [used] all over the world” (Steiner, again). Those translations further undermined the contrasts that differentiated authors, books and trends, diluting them in one code of expression and identical editorial form.
However, standardization does not end there. Rather, the selection processes, the background of the core translators and prologuists, the identical editorial format, etc. all provoke a succession of alterations aimed at suppressing what is distinctive and different to the benefit of the new identity. We know for example that the notes of the Sociologia criminale by Ferri were the object of much work, especially “certain portions of the text which in this edition are intended to appear as notes”18. Bernaldo de Quirós, another of the authors of the criminological series, subsequently joined in, but at the time, he proceeded to modify its pages in view of the American edition (“recast in a new mold, which the author considers preferable”)19. As a result, changes in the order, the insertion of epigraphs and paragraphs, and the swapping of texts and notes, that is, additions and deletions, were recurrent20.
Taken too far, standarzitation makes it necessary to speak of the “tyranny’’ of translators. I have in mind the case of Giorgio del Vecchio, the official author of a jusphilosophical book – The Formal Basis of the Law (John Lisle trans., 1914) – that, in fact, lacks an original version, for its translation contains an anthology of papers that were never edited, except in North America. Another striking and extreme example I have come across can be found in the chapter titled “Codified Law and Case-Law. Their Part in Shaping the Policies of Justice”, in Science of Legal Method (1917). In it, Wigmore included a work by Édouard Lambert; nothing out of the ordinary one might say. However, this long chapter is a colossal invention of the publisher, who combined at his pleasure phrases and paragraphs taken from La fonction du Droit civil Comparé (1903)21. Following the same compositional technique, but this time in the form of a cocktail of texts of various origins, the first volume of the historical series (A General Survey of Events, Sources, Persons, and Movements in Continental Legal History, 1912) dealt with the history of German law in a chapter “written” by no less than eight different authors22. The leading role of the editor-translator in these invented texts proudly highlighted the scientific findings that the still young American jurisprudence was capable of. Once more, Bourdieu comes to our aid:
Faire publier ce que j’aime, c’est renforcer ma position dans le champ − cela que je le veuille ou non, que je le sache ou non, et même si cet effet n’entre en rien dans le projet de mon action. Il n’y a pas de mal à ça, mais il faut le savoir. Les élections mutuelles et pures se font souvent sur la base d’homologies de position dans des champs différents auxquels correspondent des homologies d’intérêts, et des homologies de styles, de partis intellectuels, de projets intellectuels23.
In this manner, the philosophical collection could be advertised by emphasizing its uniqueness (“it is believed that […] will represent in compact form a collection of materials whose equal cannot be found at this time in any single foreign literatura”), shared with the above-mentioned Survey (with a content “that there does not exist at this moment (nor has existed for one hundred years) in any European language […] a conspectus in one volume of the external data of the movement of the law (including the persons and circumstances constituting the moving forces) in all the principal countries of Europe”)24. Helmut Coing could not have put it better.
It is not surprising that the work cited above (the same is true for The Progress of Continental Law in the Nineteenth Century, volume XI of the same series, with almost twenty authors, or for Science of Legal Method, volume IX of the philosophical collection, with twelve) fails to highlight the translated authors25. As such, it constitutes a radical instance of the standardization imposed by Wigmore, who was responsible for producing texts “by patching together parts of […] different books” that were individually irrelevant26. While Altamira’s chapter was intensely rewritten by the Spanish professor (with a little over thirty percent of new material for the new edition), the predominance of the “general plan” over the singularity of the contributions reached its peak, as we know, in the patchwork on Germany. Equalized by language, system, price and cover (the catalogues announced it as “octavo in size, bound in cloth, practically uniform with The Modern Criminal Science Series and Essays in Anglo-American Legal History”)27, this first derivative of our “library effect” generated, in conclusion, falsely European books that only existed in the American version28. (It would be interesting to explore one day the authors’ opinion on the free translations by Wigmore and his friends. We know there was no shortage of criticism, at least in the case of François Gény, one of the authors included in Science of Legal Method: “When I saw him in 1926”, wrote an eyewitness, “he was very indignant that Wigmore had not asked his permission for the selections made and that he had received no royalties on them!”)29.
It is obvious that the aim of standardizing the texts that were translated/invented by Wigmore was to acclimatize them to his own cultural environment. The Americanization of the collections – the second and obligatory consequence of the “library effect” – required that the “original” works be surrounded by paratexts that inserted the “European” books into the American space of reception. In fact, if we come back for a moment to Bourdieu’s warnings and carry out a brief recapitulation of them, we realize that the de-contextualizing of a book, a “condition sociale” necessary for the international circulation of ideas, would be somewhat limited without those literary pieces that make up the new context30. According to the French sociologist, this is the work of the préfacier, the second genuine author,
qui présente l’œuvre en se l’appropriant et en l’annexant à sa propre vision et, en tout cas, à une problématique inscrite dans le champ d’accueil et qui ne fait que très rarement le travail de reconstruction du champ d’origine.
Still, in the translations we studied, this “appropriative” endeavour became more complex and expanded to cover several fronts. The volumes first began with a “General Introduction” signed by the editorial committee of each series (it was actually Wigmore’s doing)31. Composed upon the motion that was submitted to the American Association of Law Schools for approval of the collection (always “published under the auspices of the Association”), and subsequently used in the newsletters of the publishing house, the “General Introduction” was intended to capture the attention of the public by emphasizing the interest of the exotic endeavor. Such interest lay in the comparative vision of legal phenomena in the historical series, the need to approach crime according to the most advanced studies in criminology, and the reflection, still unprecedented in the United States, on the legal method and the theoretical dimension that was convenient to the study of American law, as the reason underlying the philosophical collection.
There followed an “Editorial Preface” that introduced the singular volume Here, the préfacier – quite often Wigmore, once more – confidently claimed the translated work, exhibiting scientific competences that he did not always possess32. He also fulfilled the mission of presenting the foreign author, whose excellence was not necessarily known in the country of reception33. To end with, the publication was completed with one or two specific “Introductions” by prestigious local authors (for example, Oliver W. Holmes in the general volume of legal history, or Roscoe Pound in Raymond Saleilles’Individualization of Punishment, 1911). Indeed, a renowned magistrate or an authoritative professor “naturally” drew readers to the pages they themselves endorsed. It could even happen that the prologues engaged the European colleague in a sort of inter absentes debate and thus reassured, where necessary, the understandable scruples of a local reader who was confronted with ideas that he was partially or completely unfamiliar with34 (But Bourdieu already said that the prologue “ne fait que très rarement le travail de reconstruction du champ d’origine, d’abord parce que c’est beaucoup trop difficile”).
In any case, it is clear that the preliminary notes adapted the foreign work to the place of reception. We are thus looking at the “incorporation” of the original book into the new language (Steiner), an instant that “can potentially dislocate or relocate the whole of the native structure… Here two families of metaphor, probably related, offer themselves, that of sacramental intake or incarnation and that of infection”35. Thus, the European texts could “become infected” with American references (Smithers on Ferri), show that a foreign discourse easily “concurred” with Anglo-Saxon currents36, be lauded and criticized at the same time37, or serve, in another attempt at “incarnation”, to apply foreign conclusions to local problems38. That is why it was not uncommon for Wigmore’s paratexts to inform the reading of the original work, thus constituting an added value: “the editorial preface”, a critic observed about Ferri, “enhances its value”39.
Hence, the prologues insinuate that element of the “hermeneutic motion” that translation consists in, according to Steiner’s theory, and which is defined by the term reciprocity:
Fidelity is not literalism or any technical device for rendering “spirit”. The whole formulation, as we have found it over and over again in discussions of translation, is hopelessly vague. The translator, the exegetist, the reader is faithful to his text, makes his response responsible, only when he endeavours to restore the balance of forces, of integral presence, which his appropriative comprehension has disrupted. Fidelity is ethical, but also, in the full sense, economic. By virtue of tact, and tact intensified is moral vision, the translator-interpreter creates a condition of significant exchange. The arrows of meaning, of cultural, psychological benefaction, move both ways40.
The sharp warning is especially useful when the editor-translator who produced a book based on fragments wanted to reduce the variety of analytical approaches and particular histories prior to reception – the vague idea of “continental law”, the universality of the “legal method”, modern “criminal science” – into a unitary concept. That was the assumption of the General Survey that inaugurated the legal history series. A collection of “national” reports (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Holland), a long foreword by Wigmore (“Editorial Preface”, p. xxxiii-xliv), a first introduction by Oliver W. Holmes (“Introduction”, p. xlv-xlvii), and another by Edward Jenks (“Introduction”, p. xlix-liii), succeeded, by offering a pan-European narrative, in sublimating the territorial contrasts that vibrated in the individual chapters. Thus assembled, they formed an overall picture with few deviations. The shared “trends”, the existence of “legal cycles”, the identity of normative responses to the same stimuli… indicated to American readers that the many European differences were, in fact, apparent representations.
“All history is but a seamless web”, Frederick Maitland said there, “and he who endeavours to tell but a piece of it must feel that his first sentence tears the fabric”. Maitland added:
no piece of History is true when set apart to itself, divorced and isolated. It is part of an intricately pieced whole, and must needs be put in its place in the netted scheme of events, to recieve its true color and estimation. We are all partners in a common undertaking” (Woodrow Wilson).
Both warnings, resolutely included in the volumes of the Continental Legal History Series, led to another characteristic of the above-mentioned “effect”. Suspended “between impulses to facsimile and impulses to appropriate recreation”41, the texts that Wigmore translated acquired, following their uniformization and Americanization, a brand new identity. This is the aspect of the “library effect” that I call identification.
Reading, says Borges, is always rewriting; a useful perception that also applies to that particular kind of reading that every translation demands. Now, “re-escribir un texto… implica dos momentos: la apropiación de un discurso ajeno y el cambio de su sentido original mediante la reinserción de dicho discurso en un contexto nuevo”. If we accept the opinion of an authoritative critic of the “Argentinian poet”42, we will be one step away from better understanding the transformations brought about by the readings/re-readings/translations of John H. Wigmore.
Those were born with the Modern Criminal Science series. Here are three words that the translated titles had never used – terms full of meaning, which now gave them a specific identity43. In first place, under that label, all the contributions were modern. And, as we already know,
modern, at the time, meant opposition to the tenets of classical criminal law… The “modern” view emphasized the biological and social determinants of human behaviour, the need to consider the causes and conditions of crime, and the futility of insisting on a strict equivalence between crime and punishment if the object is to reduce the incidence of criminality.
To Edward Wise’s explanation,44 we can only add that the semantic field of criminal modernity implied a value judgment, as well as a desideratum in relation to criminal justice. For the modern offered, in first place, a better method than the classic (more realistic, more effective) to combat crime. What is more, the moment of the “combat” was understood as secondary to the “cognitive” moment, for only after the “etiology” of the harmful behavior became known (“it does have natural causes, – that is, circumstances which work to produce it in a given case”: cf. “General Introduction to the Series”, p. vii) could its commission be avoided or punished effectively.
Secondly, this “modern” paradigm that wanted to detect crime at its very roots (physiological, social, and economic) carried an unwavering desideratum in the form of reforms, both substantive and procedural (particularly with regard to the execution of the sentence). In light of recent investigations, the law in force seemed too old a tool to prevent crime (“this ignorance or indifference has blocked the way to progress in administration”, ibid.), and it therefore had to be reformed.
Modern criminologists were “naturally” reformers: probation, remission of sentence, juvenile justice, plea bargaining, etc., were innovations that had emerged in the 1870s and were finally articulated coherently around the thesis of “individualized treatment”45. It is this notion that gave rise to the new science – the second element connoted by the criminological series. Most of the selected European books had assumed the “scientific” (positivist) model of reference that was so common at the turn of the century, but Wigmore used this compromising adjective for the title of the same collection. Science thus ceased to be an “intimate” textual condition, an epistemological element of the discourse itself, and became a marketing element. And so, although Saleilles’ book dismissed empirical data and that the author was indifferent to statistics, tattoos or skulls, the translation of his work brought him closer to the determinism that he had disavowed. After all, it dealt so extensively with the famous “Italian school” (cf. “The Italian School and Individualization Based upon Formidability”, pp. 99 ff) that his critiques served the American reader as a source of information. “Très souvent”, writes Bourdieu, “avec les auteurs étrangers, ce n’est pas ce qu’’ils disent qui compte, mais ce qu’on peut leur faire dire”46. Saleilles’ questioned book (the same was true for Gabriel Tarde’s Penal Philosphy, 1912) thus experienced an authentic “transfiguration” (Steiner) when entering the Wigmore series: “an act of appropriative penetration and transfer in excess of the original, more ordered, more aesthetically pleasing”47.
“Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and Holland have been called upon to teach the United States something about ‘criminal science’… the result promises to be one of the most valuable and important contributions to the literature of sociology”, announced the press of the time with conviction48. Such were the spaces of Wigmore’s Europe, which the Legal History collection brought into evidence. In this other case, the expression “continental law” served as a category of identification. A couple of volumes on the legal history of Italy, a history of the process elaborated in France, several chapters on the sources and literature of Western countries… together conformed an original “history of continental law”. The different pieces formed a coherent figure where certain “racial elements”49 and a common legal past (“the posthumous power of Roman law, forever resisting, struggling, and coalescing with the other”) overshadowed European national diversity. At the same time, the identity of the translated material was also achieved by manipulating the contributions with a drastic selection of historical periods (from the year one thousand to the codes) and of the most relevant sources (legislation, doctrine).
Seen from the United States, the history of continental law – Germanic and Roman – ran “from Danzig to Sicily, from London to Vienna”. East of the Oder and south of the Danube legal Europe did not exist, or, at least, it did not exist for the translators, nor did some regions tacitly considered “minor”, such as Belgium or Portugal, figure at all50. This mutilated Europe broadly covered the countries of origin of the translated authors according to an a priori approach that only addressed the lack of adequate texts. As such, it was for example impossible to find a Spanish book on legal history (“as to Spain I give up the struggle. I can find nothing anywhere that seems to me quite feasible”), and Wigmore’s papers went so far as to joke about the possibility of inserting advertisements in newspapers51. Nobody thought of looking a little further west on the same peninsula52.
The limitedly international horizon of the Congress of Comparative Law that was held in Paris (1900) had not been very different, but we will not be addressing it here53. The new identity that those books acquired was a necessary step toward the generation of the fourth component of the “effect”: its inclusion within the series. From the perspective of the translated authors, who discovered a new public in English-speaking America and knew they were in good company (“works by eminent European authorities”), the most human of vanities as far as professional recoginiton goes was satisfied. All, or almost54, were ready to follow the wishes of the Chicagoan colleague, as the Spaniard Altamira confessed, “dado el valor moral que le doy al hecho de colaborar en una obra Americana de la importancia que Vs. proyectan”55. An intense previous search set in motion the extensive international network of contacts that Wigmore treasured until he found the most appropriate texts56.
The chosen works thus constituted an autonomous whole where the reciprocal links and the common elements (the English language, an identical composition in printing, the format, the prologues, the title of the series, as well the translators and other members of the editorial committee) affirmed themselves, as we have seen, over the originals. While the series as a whole presented the new context (“European”, “scientific”, “modern”, “positive”, “reformist”, “continental” etc.) any of the books in turn “contextualized” the others, the final bet having been placed on uniformity. And yet, leaving out a vast literary panorama, it seems that the reception of the books can not be solely explained by the “initial trust” of the translator as described by Steiner (“we grant ab initio that there is ‘something there’ to be understood, that the transfer will not be void”), and understood as the first step in the hermeneutic motion inherent to the act of translation57. Trust requires a previous attribution of meaning; it is supported by the extension towards the original work of the context of reception of the “librarian” or translator (values, interests, knowledge), which ultimately renders his selection plausible. This idea can be partially found in William Smithers’ not so innocent statement in his prologue to Ferri. Despite a local tradition that is remembered (“the announced but undeveloped theories of Lieber… and Drähms”), “no American writer… has devoted such untiring energy to the problem as a whole as Gross of Austria, Tarde of France, Garofalo of Italy or Bonger of Holland” (p. xxi).
It is not easy to discover the process in all its details (from the recommendation by a colleague to the personal relationship with the author, the objective interest of the subject matter, the local fame of the foreigner, etc.)58, and less so, to explain the inclusion in its negative aspect, that is, the exclusions. For example, the reasons for translating Willem A. Bonger, Criminalité et conditions économiques (1905) – a piece, as Mario Sbriccoli would say, of “diritto penale sociale”, for which forgiveness had to be requested in the opening notes – instead of Joseph van Kan, Causes économiques de la criminalité (1903)59, remain unclear. In any case, Bonger’s presence in the “library without walls” (Chartier) that is under study, like any other textual inclusion, produces “echoes”, unleashes specular phenomena (the series, as “the mirror which not only reflects but also generates light”) and, finally, an expansion of meanings. Indeed, “to class a source-text as worth translating is to dignify it immediately and to involve it in a dynamic of magnification (subject, naturally, to later review and even, perhaps, dismissal)”60.
The booklets of the publishing house acclaimed “The Modern Criminal Science Series”, describing it as “comprising works by eminent European authorities”. In fact, the “authorities” were eminent by design of a translator who spared them no praise. Thus, Bernaldo de Quirós was referred to as “the most eminent of modern Spanish criminologists” (despite Francisco Giner and Rafael Salillas), Hans Gross, as “one of the half-dozen most eminent European students of Criminal Science” (as if Franz von Liszt did not exist), the famous Lombroso “is already universally known to Americans” (were Carrara, Ellero, Pessina also known to Americans?), and Enrico Ferri as “a pupil of Lombroso… a recognized leader of his school of thought, which has exercised an important influence throughout Europe”, etc.61 Such praise perfectly reflected Steiner’s “magnification” and points to one last aspect of the “library effect”. I am referring to expansion, that is, the increase in the number of the readers of a certain work by the mere circumstance of the serial publication.
Any translation is expansive when it launches the text out of its homeland. The point I would like to emphasize here though is that Wigmore’s European books, inserted in a series and with a uniform editorial format, allowed the reader to jump between volumes with ease. The ambiguity of textual consultation, so frequent in encyclopaedias and magazines, helped obtain readers, one could say, by contagion. Thus, whoever turned to Lombroso, Jhering or Calisse could end up with Saleilles, Charmont or Hübner in their hands. The collection always generates a more crowded and extensive reception space than the arithmetic sum of the potential users of each piece. The strategies of the publishing house (“eminent European authors”, etc.) simply exploited the “magnification”, the “echoes” derived from the effort of translating62, to boost sales.
A remarkable effort, that was. “The efforts of the committee of publication of the Legal Philosophy Series will furnish us new philosophic bases upon which to reconstruct our system or at least our methods”, we know the readers thought, “and the Continental Legal History Series will show us how other peoples have worked out their legal problems in an experimental way”. Those were solutions for concrete problems, and philosophical bases and methods for rebuilding the legal system itself. I believe the expectations with which the translations were received cannot be expressed better. It was a long battery of European texts – quite a few of which had been entirely nonexistent – that launched in Progressive America Lombroso, Ferri and Saleilles in English, but also Calisse, Brissaud, Altamira, Bonger, Gareis, Del Vecchio… and so many others. All were uniformized, included, Americanized, expanded, and identified.