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Sunday, 08 July 2012 00:48

"Postcolonial Translation as Transformation: Ahdaf Soueif’s I Think of You."

Postcolonial Translation as Transformation: Ahdaf Souief’s I Think of You

Author/Editor: Gamal, Ahmed

Year of publication: 2012

Keywords: Ahdaf Souief, poscolonial writing, cultural translation, sexual politics, radical bilingualism

Place of Publication & Publisher: The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication, journal published by St. Jerome Publishing.

Publisher URL:

ISBN/ISSN: 1757-0409 (Online) / 1355-6509 (Print)

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Like translation, postcolonial writing involves an act of mediating across languages and cultures. Texts written in English by bilingual anglophone writers often include strategies of transformation similar to those used by politically engaged translators to render the linguistic and cultural specificity of their source cultures. This paper examines this practice in the writing of the Egyptian novelist and cultural critic, Ahdaf Soueif (1950 - ). It discusses how in addressing a global audience of English speakers, Soueif avoids editorial intrusions and relies extensively on lexical borrowing, contextualization, historical and geographical references, colloquial conversational formulas, culture-distinct metaphors and idioms, relexification and grammatical deviation – all of which enable her English text to accommodate the Arabic language and culture. The paper argues that Soueif’s representation of the personal dilemmas of her female characters, including their physical embodiment, transgresses the dividing line between the private and the public and the sexual and the political in the Islamic-Arab world. In this way, Soueif’s delineation of female private experience in her semi-autobiographical fiction functions as a kind of cultural translation.

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