Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Key-Phrase Allusions and Their Translations: A Focus on Mathnawi

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Key-Phrase Allusions and Their Translations: A Focus on Mathnawi

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study is to focus on the translation of Key-Phrase allusions in "The wolf and the fox go to the hunt in attendance on the lion", one of the poems of Mathnawi in book one. The translations are the ones by Mojaddedi (2004) and Redhouse (1881).The researchers aim to compare Key-Phrase allusions in this poem in Persian with their translations in English. Then, according to the strategies proposed by Leppihalme (1997), they plan to discover which of the strategies are observed by the translators and why. As most of the Key-Phrase allusions in Mathnawi are verses of Koran or some parts of the verses, there seems a specific relation exists between this type KP allusions and the choice of the strategies.

Keywords: allusions, proper-noun allusions, key-phrase allusions, religious allusions

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1. Introduction

Allusion is a reference to another work of literature, to a person, an event etc. In a close look at literature, we will observe that allusions have a specific role in stories and poems. Allusions are mostly used as help to the authors to simplify persuading their readers for accepting the message they want to convey. Among the works of literature, Mathnawi is full of allusions, both Proper noun (PN) and Key-Phrase allusions (KP).

1.1 Mathnawi

Masnavi-I Ma'navi (Persian: ... ) or Mesnevi (Turkish), which is also written Mathnawi, Ma'navi, or Mathnavi, is an extensive poem written in Persian by Jalal-al-Din Muhammad Rumi. Mathnavi consists of 6 books that each has 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. As Mojaddedi (2004) puts it,

"Rumi has long been recognized within the Sufitradition as one of the most important Sufis in history. He not only produced the finest Sufipoetry in Persian, but was the master of disciples who later named their order after him. Moreover, by virtue of the intense devotion he expressed towards his own master, Rumi has become the archetypal Sufidisciple. From that perspective, the unprecedented level of interest in Rumi's poetry over the last couple of decades in North America and Europe does not come as a total surprise. Once his poetry finally began to be rendered into English in an attractive form, which coincided with an increased interest in mysticism among readers, this Sufisaint who expressed his mystical teachings in a more memorable and universally accessible form than any other started to become a household name"(p. XI).

Mathnawi is translated to English by different translators, to name a few: Redhouse (the first book only), Winfield, Wilson (book I I), Nicholson, Mojaddedi (book 1&2).

1.2 Definition of Allusion

If we look at the etymology of the term 'allusion' we can see a connection with the idea of play: ad + ludere ®alludere (Leppihalme, 1997).

There are different definitions for the concept of allusion by different scholars:

As Wheeler (1979, p.5) puts it, "Allusion helps to elucidate the meaning of each text and to indicate the literary modes and conventions in which its author works."

According to Leppihalme (1997), Standard definitions in literary studies share the idea of 'reference to something'. She has mentioned different definitions in encyclopedias or dictionaries and they are:

"ALLUSION. Latin alludere, to play with, to jest, to refer to. A reference to characters and events of mythology, legends, history (Scott, 1965)

ALLUSION. Tacit reference to another literary work, to another art, to history, to contemporary figures, or the like. (Preminger, 1965)

A reference, usually brief, often casual, occasionally indirect, to a person, event, or condition presumably familiar but sometimes obscure or unknown to the reader. (Shaw, 1976)

A reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place, or event, or to another literary work or passage (Abrams, 1984)" (cited in Leppihalme, 1997, p.6).

Leppihalme (1997) believes that such reference is made in order to compare A and B because according to Lass et al (1987) 'An allusion is a figure of speech that compares aspects or qualities of counterparts in history, mythology, scripture, literature, popular or contemporary culture'(as cited in Leppihalme, 1997, p. …

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