Political Villainy on the Modern Stage: Arabic Translations and Adaptations of William Shakespeare's Richard III/LA POLITIQUE DE VILLAINY SUR LA SCENE MODERNE: LES TRADUCTIONS EN ARABE ET DE L'ADAPTIONS DU RICHARD III DE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

By Al-Khalili, Raja Khaleel | Canadian Social Science, March 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Political Villainy on the Modern Stage: Arabic Translations and Adaptations of William Shakespeare's Richard III/LA POLITIQUE DE VILLAINY SUR LA SCENE MODERNE: LES TRADUCTIONS EN ARABE ET DE L'ADAPTIONS DU RICHARD III DE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE


Al-Khalili, Raja Khaleel, Canadian Social Science


Abstract

The following paper explores the rhetorical use of anaphora in William Shakespeare's Richard III and its impact on the translation of western conceptions of political villains to an Arabic audience. The analysis examines the use of anaphora in Richard's soliloquies and public speeches that show Richard's skills in rhetoric aimed primarily at political deception. The Arabic translations and adaptations of the play for contemporary audiences, on the other hand, were received poorly because the Arab world perceives political villains differently. The study proposes that a new translation or an adaptation should be based on an awareness of the historical background and the linguistic differences particular to the Shakespearean play so as to approximate the English model of political villainy for modern Arabic audiences.

Key words: Richard III; Shakespearean play; William Shakespeare; Arabic; English play

Résumé

Le document qui suit explore l'utilisation rhétorique de l'anaphore dans William Shakespeare, Le Richard III et son impact sur la traduction de conceptions occidentales de méchants politiques à un public arabe. L'analyse porte sur l'utilisation de l'anaphore dans soliloques de Richard et de discours publics qui montrent les compétences de Richard dans la rhétorique vise principalement à la tromperie politique. Les traductions en arabe et des adaptations de la pièce pour un public contemporain, d'autre part, ont été reçues mal parce que le monde arabe perçoit méchants politiques différemment. L'étude propose que une nouvelle traduction ou une adaptation devrait être basée sur une prise de conscience du contexte historique et les différences linguistiques notamment pour la pièce de Shakespeare de façon à approcher le modèle anglais de la vilenie politique moderne publics arabes.

Mots Clés: Richard III; Pièce de Shakespeare; William Shakespeare; Arabe; Pièce en anglais

John Marston in Scourges of Villainy (1598) makes a reference to Shakespeare's Richard III (1594) in the seventh satire where he parodies Richard's "A horse, a horse, a kingdom for a horse" (5.4.7): "A man, a man, a kingdom for a man" (p.394). The anaphoric statement in the Shakespearean play is a demonstration of Richard's abilities to use language to manipulate others on the battle field and ultimately shows a political villain's skill failing as he is unhorsed. The rhetorical statement creates a melodious discourse that attempts to stir the audience to Richard's predicament. At the same time, the assertion uttered at the height of battle emphasizes the energy of Richard's political motivations and shows that people will eventually acquire immunity from being affected by speeches. Thereby, Richard sketches a model of villainous leader driven by his own rhetoric to postulate a positive response from his followers and construes an ending which shows his ultimate alienation. In a literal translation of the play as manifested in Al-Qid's (1993) version the repetition of "horse" (p.244) would stimulate an Arabic spectator to link the word to the cultural importance of the animal in Arabic literature and history. Therefore, for a translator, the gap between the two cultures is immense and rendering Richard III to an Arabic audience is from the onset a complicated endeavour. The most difficult task, however, is mainly portraying western perceptions of political villains to the Arab world who have come to see dictators as lacking in rhetorical abilities.

A reader of modern politics in the Arab world realizes that politics are intensely territorial and the translation or adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard HI reveals the difficulty of approximating western political themes to an Arabic audience. The intricacy is demonstrated in a review of Al-Bassam's adaptation of Richard IH on the English stage for an Arabic audience. Margaret Litvin (2007) considered the half-empty room and the reaction of the audience along with "the theme of mutual ArabWest ignorance and misappropriation [which] continued to resonate throughout" would hardly account for a successful play (p. …

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Political Villainy on the Modern Stage: Arabic Translations and Adaptations of William Shakespeare's Richard III/LA POLITIQUE DE VILLAINY SUR LA SCENE MODERNE: LES TRADUCTIONS EN ARABE ET DE L'ADAPTIONS DU RICHARD III DE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
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