Dis-contenting Khayyam in the Context of Comparative Literature: An Invitation to Translating Rubaiyat with a Focal Shift from Content to Form

Sajad Soleymani Yazdi

Abstract


Since its conception in France in 1877, Comparative Literature, always subject to a critique of Eurocentrism, has been in a state of perpetual crisis. In “The Old/New Question of Comparison in Literary Studies: A Post-European Perspective” (2004), Ray Chow argued for a Post-European perspective in which comparatists begin with the home culture and look outwards to the European cultures, contrary to the dominant approach of doing just otherwise. Missing in Chow’s argument is the position of translation in this post-European perspective. In the 14 years between 2004 and 2018, the grandiose claims of comparative literature have been problematized and addressed; the lay of the land, however, remains predominantly Eurocentric, as it still focuses on content disproportionately. In this paper, through a study of English translations of Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, and taking Chow’s argument further, I argue that with its commitment to transfer the form of a text as much as the content, translation studies can further help comparative literature to distance itself from Europe. To exemplify the implication of this, I suggest that a translation of Khayyam’s Rubaiyat from Farsi to English would be more faithful to the original if its translations were to focus on the poem’s form rather than the content. I argue that translating with a focus on form would foreignize Khayyam’s poetry, hence an act of resistance against cultural hegemony.

Keywords


Comparative Literature, Translation Studies, Post-European, Persian Literature, Form and Content, Khayyam, Rubaiyat

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.7n.1p.24

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