Inimitability versus Translatability: The Structure of Literary Meaning in Arabo-Persian Poetics

The Translator 19 (1):81-104 (2013)
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Building on the multivalent meanings of the Arabo- Persian tarjama (‘to interpret’, ‘to translate’, ‘to narrate’), this essay argues for the relevance of Qur’ānic inimitability (i'jāz) to contemporary translation theory. I examine how the translation of Arabic rhetorical theory ('ilm al-balāgha) into Persian inaugurated new trends within the study of literary meaning. Finally, I show how Islamic aesthetics conceptualizes the translatability of literary texts along lines kindred to Walter Benjamin.

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Rebecca Ruth Gould
University of Birmingham


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