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Translation historiography in the Modern World

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Nearly all scholarly works about the encounter of Iran with European modernity emphasize the role of translation not only in introducing new literary forms into the Persian literary system, but also in becoming the main engine of change and modernization of the culture. This paper concerns itself with this constructivist narrative of the available historiographical discourse and the translational environment between 1851 and 1921 in Iran. After describing the field of translation in the period in question, I challenge the uncritical conception of translation as a positive force by, on the one hand, investigating hypothetical cultural and linguistic implications, and on the other hand, questioning the power of translation per se, as ascribed to it in the above mentioned historiographical discourse, in socio-cultural modernization. This will prioritize the individual and cultural translational effects over the supposed institutional ones.
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Keywords: Iranian modernity; modern Persian prose; the Constitutional Revolution; the Darolfonun; translation historiography; translation movements

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 12, 2010

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