Passion of Resentment

We are in Chapter 4: the young Jane has been present at the interview between Mrs Reed, her aunt, and Mr Brocklehurst, the forbidding visitor who has come to assess her suitability for Lowood school. She has heard herself described as ‘an artful, noxious child’ possessing ‘a tendency to deceit’. Sitting there, she says, ‘I had felt every word as acutely as I had heard it plainly, and a passion of resentment fermented now within me.’

The phrasing, with its emphasis on feeling and hearing, accentuates the sense of ‘passion’ as the reaction to a stimulus that has come from outside (to which Jane has been passive). In response, passion ‘ferments’ like wine or beer in the making. There is a variant here in the English texts of Jane Eyre: the second and third editions print ‘fomented’ (ie warmed, cherished) instead of ‘fermented’ which is in the manuscript and first edition. Both readings can be found in later editions, and have been used by translators.

In the translations, ‘passion of resentment’ is rephrased in ways that give rise to different, sometimes more violent back-translations:  ‘unbearable rage’, ‘lust for vengeance’, ‘intense anger’. The hint of liquid in ‘fermented’ plays out in varied directions: ‘passionate thirst for vengeance’; ‘indignation started to boil within me’; ‘indignation was ready to pour forth torrent-like from my chest’. In the Tibetan translation, which is radically abridged, much of the  preceding dialogue and description is cut, but this moment of passion is preserved and intensified.

In the animation, the variants unfold on two successive screens:

Next: a ‘grande passion’.

List of translations quoted.

Text and animation by Matthew Reynolds, incorporating research by Eugenia Kelbert, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, Jernej Habjan, Ida Klitgård, Ulrich Timme Kragh, Matthew Reynolds, Kayvan Tahmasebian.