Translation after the Persianate? Omar Khayyam and Late Perso-Ottoman Poetic Connectivity

In: Philological Encounters
Mehtap Ozdemir Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Bologna Bologna Italy

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This article focuses on late Ottoman/Turkish translations of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat (“quatrains”) as part of Perso-Ottoman poetic connectivity in the early twentieth century. Situating the reception of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat at the nexus of world literature, literary historiography, and translatability, the article explores the methodological affordances of translation to redress the overdominance of discursive and historical points of rupture in studies of late Persianate literatures. To that end, the article offers a comparative reading of Hüseyin Daniş’s Rubaiyat-ı Ömer Hayyam (1927), Rıza Tevfik’s Ömer Hayyam ve Rubaileri (1945), both of which are based on their co-authored translation in 1922, and Mevlevi Mustafa Rüşdi b. Mehmet Tevfik’s translation of Khayyam’s quatrains (1931–32). By way of specific attention to translation as hermeneutics, this article suggests that translating after the Persianate did not involve a straight shift from regional translation practices to translation proper nor was it exclusively a modus operandi of literary and linguistic nationalism. In drawing attention to how translation can accommodate both synchronic and diachronic mobility, the article therefore calls for alternative comparative methodologies which attend to persistent textual practices as well as conjunctural discourses in literary history.

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