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Leiden Translation Talk 5 April: Pseudotranslation and reading under the bombs in Iran

Tuesday 5 April 2022
Leiden Translation Talks
Online via Zoom

In translation studies, pseudotranslation is considered as translation without or with a weak connection to a corresponding source text. Writers and translators have used it as a strategy, among others, to escape censorship, introduce new literary genres and a marketing ploy. While recent scholarship has introduced more cases of pseudotranslation from non-Western traditions and challenged our understanding of translation theory (see Rambelli 2020), researchers have little in terms of methodological solutions to identify a translation from a pseudotranslation (Rizzi 2008) or an adaptation, for that matter.

In this presentation, Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam re-reflects on the curious and yet challenging case of Zabihollah Mansuri (1897-1986), a prolific Iranian translator whose practice remains to be fully explored. As a modest man of singular habits, his translations/adaptations/pseudotranslations of historical novels, romances and thrillers have remained popular for several generations of Iranians. This was specially the case during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) when Iraq targeted major cities such as Tehran and Isfahan with long range missiles. Readers found solace in Mansuri’s captivating stories of the adventures of the Egyptian physician Sinuhe, the Assassins of the Alamut fort, and the accessible but otherwise complex transcendental philosophy of the 17th century Persian philosopher Molla Sadra as a way to escape the horrors of two wars: one imposed externally and one imposed internally by the post-Revolutionary ideologists. Mansuri’s case can complicate the boundary between translation, adaptation, pseudotranslation and original writing. Connections will be also made to a recent argument on the rise of “literal mind” in Iran (Azadibougar 2022) and what it might tell us about pseudotranslation.

Azadibougar, O. 2022. “The decline of literary reading and the rise of the literal mind.” In Book Love, ed. María Angélica Thumala Olave, New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2022 (forthcoming).

Rambelli, A. 2020. “Pseudotranslation.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, eds. M. Baker and G. Saldanha, 441-445. 

Rizzi, A. 2008. “When a text is both a pseudotranslation and a translation: The enlightening case of Matteo Maria Boiardo (1441-1494),” In Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies: Investigations in Homage to Gideon Toury, eds. M. Shlesinger, et al.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 153-162.

Click here for the Zoom link
Meeting ID: 713 4755 2137
Passcode: 834aJM

About the speaker: Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellow at Leiden. Previously he was at the University of Leuven (Belgium) both as a postdoctoral and a research fellow. His current research focuses on the dynamics, legacy and impact of the cultural Cold War in the Middle East.

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