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Eastern Luminaries Disclosed to Western Eyes

A Critical Evaluation of the Translations of the "Mu‘allaqāt</I> into English and French (1782-2000)

Raja Lahiani

This book studies and evaluates the different translations of the Mu‘allaqāt, seven canonical pre-Islamic odes, from Arabic into English and French. First, it introduces the Mu‘allaqāt and the chief controversies related to their study in both Eastern and Western scholarship. It then presents the translators of the Mu‘allaqāt and their translations and closes with two typologies of the translations and translators presented. A number of criteria for the evaluation of translations of poetry are developed.
The book provides a comparative study of the English and French translations of the Mu‘allaqāt with a focus on a number of communicative priorities in the source text, based on stylistic devices that require a sound awareness of the culture of pre-Islamic Arabia, the main setting of the Mu‘allaqāt.
The author assesses the reliability of the criteria of evaluation and the translatability of the Mu‘allaqāt as a text that is remote from its translators in time, in place, and with respect to literary tradition.
Contents: The translatability of poetry – An integrated approach for the evaluation of translations – Criteria for the evaluation of translations of poetry – Prose translations versus verse translations of poetry – The manipulation of cultural differences in translation – Critical evaluation – The Mu‘allaqāt in the East and West – Achieving equivalence in the translation of poetry.