On Translation of Metaphor in the First Book of Rumi’s Masnavi: Approaches of Nicholson and Mojaddedi

  • Mohammad Javad Mahdavi Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
  • Ahmad Hosseinzadeh Ferdowsi University of Mashhad


In Western world, Persian literature is mostly known by its classics which are transferred into the Western literature through translation. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad bīn Muhammad Balkhī (1207–1273), known as Rumi, is a Persian mystical poet who has had a significant status in the English translated literature in the past 150 years. His most influential work, Masnavi, has been a critical case for the Western scholarly researches on Persian literature. This mystical masterpiece is enriched with different types of rhetorical devices which have interested various types of readers throughout centuries. One of the most important rhetorical devices is metaphor, a topic under scholarly discussions since the Aristotle’s Rhetoric in the 4th century BC. Metaphor has a key role in literary translation studies as well, both in prescriptive translation techniques and in descriptive translation models. In the present research, the methods for translation of metaphors in two English translations of the first book of Masnavi are described – the famous prose translation of Nicholson (1926) and a new verse translation by Mojaddedi (2004). To do so, 155 metaphors are extracted from the Persian text, and their English equivalents are described accordingly using Larson’s model for metaphor translation (1998). The main finding is that, despite the 80-year span between these two translations, the first choice of both translators for rendering metaphors is literal translation.
How to Cite
Mahdavi, M. J., & Hosseinzadeh, A. (2015). On Translation of Metaphor in the First Book of Rumi’s Masnavi: Approaches of Nicholson and Mojaddedi. Translation Studies Quarterly, 12(46). Retrieved from http://journal.translationstudies.ir/ts/article/view/256
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