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Abstract

In this article I take the story of a Jewish female wine merchant (chapter 28, Mishle he-ʿarav) as a witness of the phenomenon of cultural translation that was developing within the Jewish communities in Medieval Iberia and Provence. I present the Hebrew transcription of the story and provide the first English translation. Then, I examine the motivations that led the author of the work to stress the religion of the wine seller and the consequences of this fact from a cultural translation perspective. The objective is not to find the source and parallels of the story but to understand its meaning in a specific cultural context. Therefore, this article offers my reading of the story as a multilayered text in which we can see intermingled traces of different cultural traditions: the story of the hermit Barṣīṣā, the doctrine of martyrdom in Judaism and the ḥudud crimes in Islamic law.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'

Abstract

The Qurʾan continues to be translated with either little attention, or outright inattention, to rhyme. This contribution is an attempt to produce a rhyme-led translation of Sūrat Luqmān, the 31st surah in the Qurʾan. It has been chosen, on the one hand, for its amenability to rhyme and rhythm (end sounds are ūn/īn/īm / īr/ūr / īẓ / īd), and on the other for its content: the surah includes much good counsel by a wise older man to a younger one, which is an apposite offering from me to the volume’s honoree.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'

Abstract

This paper interprets the ornamental program of the Almohad Great Mosque of Seville, completed between 1172 and 1198 CE. The mosque’s extant minaret and fragmentary archaeological material recovered from its prayer hall suggest that it was a relatively ornate building comparted to previous Almohad Friday mosques, such as the Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh (c. 1158 CE), featuring a more overt depiction of vegetal forms and a more systematized ornamental program. In partial explanation of these characteristics, this study argues they share key thematic features with the written works of two of the building’s contemporaries: Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin Muḥammad bin Ṭufayl al-Qaysī (d. 1185) and Abū-l-Walīd Muḥammad bin Aḥmad bin Muḥammad bin Rušd, al-Ḥafīd (d. 1198). Read side-by-side, the texts and mosque evidence a preoccupation with the observation of a divinely-ordered created world, and they represent continued efforts of the Almohad elite to wrestle with the theological issue of how the divine might manifest in the mundane.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet: Essays on His Life and Work offers the first substantial work to assess his life and writings since his premature death in 1975. Considered a major figure in the second wave of Hugh MacDiarmid’s ‘Scottish Literary Renaissance’, Smith’s unique body of work has largely fallen from critical discussion of post-war Scottish literature.

This book remedies this by showing how his work may have fallen out of favour, and then by reappraising his distinctive and varied achievements in poetry, drama, art and art criticism, the novel and translations. Early career and established academics explore the many strands of his work as the best way of giving this multifaceted literary figure renewed attention.

Abstract

The chapter explores the diverse poetic vision and the representations of femininity in Sydney Goodsir Smith’s poetry. The discussion focuses on the ways in which Smith romanticises and idealises female figures, drawing from the hoard of myth and legend, which includes the Moon goddess, the witch, Eurydice, Dido, and the Queen of the Fairies, appearing recurrently in his poetry. It attempts to examine the central position given to the Muse who acts as the moving force behind the poetic and argues that by placing the feminine Thou at the forefront of his poetry, Smith stresses the totality of the female other. Finally, the chapter aims to demonstrate how, by employing traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the song, the ballad, the elegy and writing in Scots, Smith revisits, revises and challenges lyrical conventions.

In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet
In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet

Abstract

The comic drama Colickie Meg is both an adaptation and a continuation of Carotid Cornucopius and is written in the same distinctive idiolect. Although extracts were published in the journals Lines Review and Jabberwock, it remains both unperformed and unpublished. This chapter examines the five extant manuscripts of Colickie Meg held by Edinburgh University Library and the National Library of Scotland. It first traces a compositional history of the play, focusing, in particular, on early drafts that cast significant light on Smith’s creative processes and reveal that his most intensive work on Colickie Meg occurred earlier (1949–50) than has been appreciated. It next provides a brief summary of the play’s action before analysing in depth its relationship to Carotid Cornucopius. It shows that the drama downplays the novel’s political components and amplifies its mythical subtexts while offering clues as to why Smith did not extend Carotid Cornucopius beyond the existing eight ‘fitts’. It finally identifies factors – largely connected to its spectacular multimedia nature – that may have prevented Colickie Meg from reaching either page or stage.

In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet

Abstract

This chapter discusses the inspiration MacDiarmid’s new Scots-language poetry provided for Smith, although the New Zealand-born poet had had no previous contact with Scots-language culture. Nevertheless, Smith became a prominent Scots-language member of the second phase of the Scottish Renaissance poetry revival. The chapter explores the similarities and differences between Smith’s and MacDiarmid’s approaches to the Scots language as, for example, in Smith’s involvement in the attempt to develop a standard of Scots for poetry purposes as opposed to MacDiarmid’s more haphazard ‘apostrophe’ activity. The chapter also explores differences in the thematic nature of their poetry. ‘Back to Dunbar’ did not have the same meaning for Smith as it had for MacDiarmid. The influence of the Classics in Smith’s writing will be discussed as will Smith’s visual imagination in relation to MacDiarmid’s emphasis on the ‘soon’, no’ sense, that faddoms the herts o’ men’. In conclusion, the chapter considers whether the reputation of both poets has been unfairly restricted by their decision to write a modern(ist) poetry in Scots.

In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet

Abstract

This chapter discusses the ways in which Smith, ostensibly an outsider to Scottish culture at the start of his writing life, embraced the internationalist ideals of the Scottish Literary Renaissance. His use of the Scots tongue and of Scotland (especially Edinburgh) as the setting of many poems are relatively superficial aspects of his literary nationalism: much more important are his frequent references to earlier Scottish literature, emphasising the scope and the unity of the national literary achievement, and his association of heroic figures from Scottish history with comparable freedom-fighters from other countries, emphasising Scotland’s traditionally international outlook.

In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet

Abstract

The reference in the title of this chapter is to one of the writer’s versions of Apollinaire, and provides a fitting lens through which to read his use of foreign poets – on the one hand to order his own Scottish experience as regards its international setting, on the other to stravaig adventurously through the wider poetic world. This chapter looks at Smith’s translations of the following poets: Guillaume Apollinaire, Alexander Blok, Stefan Borsukiewicz, Tristan Corbière, Ivan Jelinek, Sorley MacLean, Sappho and François Villon. It takes a broad view of Smith’s work as a translator from Gaelic, French, Czech, Polish, Ancient Greek and Russian. In each case it explores the reasons for his being drawn to translate particular poets and what he hoped to achieve by doing so, linking his work in this area to the wider Scottish Renaissance project of translation as part of an effort to internationalise Scottish letters.

In: Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet