1st Edition

Translation and the Manipulation of Difference Arabic Literature in Nineteenth-Century England

By Tarek Shamma Copyright 2009
    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    Translation and the Manipulation of Difference explores the question of difference in translation and offers an extended critique of the advocacy of foreignizing translation as a practice that does not minimize the alterity of the foreign text, and could therefore serve as an antidote to ethnocentrism and cultural insularity.

    Shamma examines the reception of Arabic literature - especially the Arabian Nights - in nineteenth-century England and offers a detailed analysis of the period's major translations from Arabic: by Edward Lane, Richard Burton and Wilfred Blunt. He demonstrates that the long, complicated history of interaction, often confrontation, between Europe and the Arab World, where (mis)representations of the Other were intricately embroiled with political struggles, provides a critical position from which to examine the crucial role of context, above and beyond the textual elements of the translation, in shaping the political effects of translation. Examining translation techniques and decisions in the context of the translators' own goals as well as the conditions that surrounded the reception of their work, the study shows how each translator 'manipulated' his original in line with political positions that ranged from (implicit) acquiescence to steadfast resistance to colonialism. In a carefully elaborated critique of totalizing positions, the author argues that the foreignizing-domesticating model is too limited to describe the social and political function of translation and calls for a more complex understanding of the sociopolitical dimensions of translation strategies. 

    1. Colonial Representation and the Uses of Literalism

    Edward William Lane's Translation of The Arabian Nights


    1. The Age of Galland

        Galland and His Readers

    2. Galland Reconsidered

    3. Lane and The Arabian Nights

        The British Colonial Interest in Egypt

         The Describer of Egypt

         The Arabian Nights

          "An epoch in the history of popular Eastern literature"

          Literal Translation and the Exhibitionary Complex

          Literalism in Postcolonial Theories


    2. The Exotic Dimension of Foreignizing Strategies

    Richard Francis Burton's Translation of The Arabian Nights


    1.  A Rebel Manqué

         The "Pilgrimage" to Mecca

    2.  Burton the Translator

         The Arabian Nights

         Burton and his Readers

         Contextualizing the Nights

         "Oriental in tone and colour"

         "A complete picture of Eastern peoples"

    3.  Foreignism or Exoticism?

    4.  Venuti on Burton


    3.  Domestication as Resistance

    Wilfrid Scawen Blunt's Translations from Arabic


    1.  Looking for a Cause

        In Byron's Footsteps

    2.  A "Political First Love"

         The "Rob Roy of the Desert"

         "Shepard rule"

    3.  The "scourge of the oppressor"

         Blunt and the Irish Literary Revival

    4.  Blunt the Translator

         A New Rúbaiyāt?

    5. Translation as a Political Act



        Translation as Adjustment


    Shamma, Tarek