Manipulation and Reception of English Translation of Rubaiyat by the Victorians
Keywords:Culture, Fitzgerald, Ideology, Khayyam, Manipulation, Persian cultural concepts
This study investigates the English translation of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat by Edward Fitzgerald in the Victorian age. Khayyam was the great Iranian mathematician, philosopher, and poet whose Rubaiyat received a warm reception by the British audience of the 19th century. Using a comparative descriptive method, the study first intends to show how an exotic text from the East was introduced to the British audience, how Fitzgerald added an orientation to the translation, in what ways he accomplished that orientation, and why the Victorians welcomed Khayyam’s poetry. To achieve this, the study first discusses the reasons for Khayyam’s good reception in Victorian age Britain. The discussions depicted that the carpe diem philosophy prevalent in Rubaiyat attracted many Victorians experiencing the religious doubt discourse of the 19th century. Then, forty quatrains of Rubaiyat which contain culturally specific items were selected purposefully and compared with their English translations using Bassnett and Lefevere’s (1998) cultural manipulation theory to determine how Fitzgerald manipulated the original quatrains. Ten out of forty quatrains were discussed in this study as examples to show how Persian cultural-specific concepts were dealt with in the translation. The results implied that Fitzgerald removed references to the Persian cultural concepts in translating Khayyam, indicating British colonial and imperialistic attitudes towards the East.
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