1st Edition

Translating Rumi into the West A Linguistic Conundrum and Beyond

By Amir Sedaghat Copyright 2023
    330 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Focusing on Rumi, the best-selling Persian mystical poet of the 13th century, this book investigates the reception of his work and thought in North America and Europe – and the phenomenon of ‘Rumimania’ – to elucidate the complexities of intercultural communication between the West and the Iranian and Islamic worlds.

    Presenting tens of examples from the original and translated texts, the book is a critical analysis of various dimensions of this reception, outlining the difficulties of translating the text but also exploring how translators of various times and languages have performed, and explaining why the quality of reception varies. Topics analysed include the linguistic and pragmatic issues of translation, comparative stylistics and poetics, and non-textual factors like the translator’s beliefs and the political and ideological aspects of translation. Using a broad theoretical framework, the author highlights the difficulties of intercultural communication from linguistic, semiotic, stylistic, poetic, ethical, and sociocultural perspectives. Ultimately, the author shares his reflections on the semiotic specificities of Rumi’s mystical discourse and the ethics of translation generally.

    The book will be valuable to scholars and students of Islamic philosophy, Iranian studies, and translation studies, but will appeal to anyone interested in the cultural dichotomies of the West and Islam.

    Introduction  1. First Order Linguistic Difficulties  2. Translation or the Retrieval of the Discoursive Form  3. Recreating the Poetics of Rumi  4. Translating Rumi’s Rhetoric  5. Hermeneutics of Translating Rumi  6. On the Politics of Reception  7. Translation as an Ethical Locus  Conclusion


    Amir Sedaghat holds a PhD in translation studies and transcultural communication from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3. He teaches translation at the University of Toronto, Canada. Specialising in semiotics, he focuses his research on intercultural and interreligious relations between the West and the Islamic World.

    "Amir Sedaghat is one of the youngest scholars of the great Rumi in the Western academic world. He has already published important studies on the content and form of Rumi’s complex and rich poetry, including its articulation with traditional Persian music. In this new book, based on his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne University, he examines, through profound research, the various problems associated with the translation of this universal figure of Muslim mysticism into certain Western languages. He presents subtle and erudite reflections on the traductological, semiological, socio-cultural, political or ethical aspects of these problems."

    Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, Université PSL-Sorbonne, France

    "This finely argued and well researched study is a "revelation". It makes a major contribution to understanding the translation of Sufism through the study of Rumi. It will be an invaluable resource for translation scholars."

    Christine Raguet, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, France