There are two extant Middle Dutch translations of the Latin pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum secretorum: a thirteenth-century rhymed translation by Jacob van Maerlant and an anonymous prose translation, preserved in a fifteenth-century manuscript. A comparison between a few chapters of the two translations and Roger Bacon's edition of the Latin text shows that the Middle Dutch texts constitute different translations. The verse translation presents an abbreviated reading of the Latin. The prose translation has rendered its Latin source more completely: a great number of the chapters on technical and medical subjects lacking in Maerlant's translation can be found in the prose text. Another interesting feature of the two translations is the difference in narrative perspective. While Maerlant replaces the first-person narrator of his source (i.e. Aristotle) by an omniscient narrator, the prose author adheres to the narrative perspective of his Latin exemplar. To account for these differences, attention is paid to the cultural context of the two translations.
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