Translating Classical Arabic Literature Together

Geert Jan van Gelder, University of Oxford
Monday, March 12, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm
144 Louis A. Simpson International Building
Monday, March 12, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm

Abstract: Translating literary texts can be a lonely activity, but my translations of pre-modern Arabic literature into English (not my native language) are rarely a solo effort. For my Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology (2013) I had welcome editorial support, for instance. In my talk, however, I shall speak about two other projects, involving proper collaboration: the translation of The Epistle of Forgiveness by the 11th-century Abū l-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (published 2013–14) together with the German scholar Gregor Schoeler, and the translation of The Story of Abū l-Qāsim al-Baghdādī (nearing completion) by another 11th-century author, the obscure al-Azdī, together with the American Arabist Emily Selove. I intend to talk of my experiences (mostly very positive) in two rather different roles.

Bio: Geert Jan van Gelder (PhD, Leiden, 1982) was Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Groningen from 1975 until 1998 and Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1998 until his retirement in 2012. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). He is the author of numerous publications on Classical Arabic Literature. His recent books include Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry (Wiesbaden, 2013); Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology (New York, 2013); and Abū l-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī, The Epistle of Forgiveness (Risālat al-Ghufrān), or, A Pardon to Enter the Garden; Volume One: A Vision of Heaven and Hell, Volume Two: Hypocrites, Heretics, and Other Sinners, ed. and tr. (with Gregor Schoeler) (New York, 2013–14).


Sponsored by
The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication