Laura Gribbon writes about the rise of the Arabic novel through translation and adaption. As Gribbon writes: “Going back to the late 19th and early 20th century Arab renaissance, critics questioned whether the Arabic novel itself merely mimicked a European genre.”
But the novel’s journey into Arabic was actually “clandestine, meandering and mischievous,” Professor Samah Selim argued during a recent Cairo lecture entitled, “The People’s Entertainment: Translation, Adaptation and the Novel in Egypt.”…Certain adaption processes make the novel an “adaptable, anarchic and popular genre,” Selim says.
She cited Arsène Lupin, French writer Maurice Leblanc’s fictional character, whose adaptation in Arabic was a way of drawing on older forms of local popular knowledge. Similarly, the first Arabic version of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) was published in 1838 anonymously and followed by a host of other adaptations.
Ribbon goes on to discuss the current trends of adaptation and translation and how they have affected the rising interest in Arab literature: “Most English-language academic syllabi are still obsessed with European and American canonical authors, but the Internet and increasing diaspora communities are introducing Arab writers and filmmakers into the mix.”
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