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Prophetic TranslationThe Making of Modern Egyptian Literature$
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Maya Kesrouany

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474407403

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474407403.001.0001

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Prophetic Tendencies: Egyptian Translators of the Twentieth Century

Prophetic Tendencies: Egyptian Translators of the Twentieth Century

(p.1) Introduction Prophetic Tendencies: Egyptian Translators of the Twentieth Century
Prophetic Translation

Maya I. Kesrouany

Edinburgh University Press

The introduction explores the complex history of literary translation into Arabic from Napoleon’s arrival in Alexandria in 1789 until the 1950s. It considers the formative correlation between the stylistics of translation, the promise of fiction, and the political context as they relate to the ‘modernity’ of the novel form. Focusing on the works of four major translators - Muṣṭafa Luṭfī al-Manfalūṭī, Muḥammad al-Sibā‘ī, and Muḥammad Ḥusayn Haykal and Ṭāhā Ḥusayn – it highlights the different translation aesthetics from free adaptation to literal copying and biographical rewriting. It situates these trends in conversation with translation theory to offer a novel way of approaching literary adaptation in colonial situations. The introduction tackles the debate on ‘arabization’ (ta‘rīb) as opposed to pure translation (tarjama) in Egypt and considers how it has informed genealogies of the Arabic novel more broadly. Precisely because translation appears as failed emulation, the chapter addresses how through the playful adaptation of European influence of romanticism and realism, translation stages the emergence of a secular, prophetic narrative voice in the works of the four translators that challenges dominant narratives of Arab literary modernity.

Keywords:   Translation, adaptation, prophecy, romanticism, colonialism, Nahḍa

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