Blind Spots: A Millennium of Arabic in Translation

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

This Friday in London, Anton Shammas gives the inaugural annual lecture of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation:

Blind Spots: A Millennium of Arabic in Translation

To mark the 10th year of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize — which launched in 2006 with a recognition of Humphrey Davies’ translation of Gate of the Sun — Omar Saif Ghobash and his family have extended their sponsorship to an annual lecture series, the first of which is set for this Friday at the British Library.

According to organizers:

He explores the hitherto concealed connections between Arabic learning and western literature and art. He asks why Cervantes would claim that Don Quixote, ‘the first great novel of world literature’ was a history translated from Arabic, paying tribute to the vanished  Muslim population of Spain; how the foundational Optics of 11th-century Cairo mathematician Ibn Al-Haytham ignited the Renaissance when translated into Latin and Italian; and considers the often unconscious transcribing of these influences into the work of later artists and writers, including Velazquez, Picasso and William Faulkner.

Shammas is a Palestinian author, academic, and translator who works in and between Arabic, Hebrew and English, and is Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he’s been since 1997.

He is currently at work on a collection Blind Spots and Other Essays on Translation.

There will be video; it’s not entirely clear if it will be available to the public. If you’re in London, you can book tickets online.

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