Friday, January 30, 2009

Found in Translation: How a Thirteenth-Century Islamic Poet Conquered America

An interesting article by Ryan Croken which uses the case of Coleman Barks, a popular translator of Rumi, to make a larger point about the mistranslation of Muslim culture in America. As Mr. Croken states:

Muslims are mistranslated everywhere, egregiously so—not just their poetry, but their faces, their character, their humanity.

While I think Coleman Barks' translations are to be avoided, they really are of poor quality, the larger point that Croken makes about mistranslations of culture, especially Muslim culture, is worth considering.

Rumi, may Allah have mercy on him, was a Muslim mystic and saint who reminded people of our connection to our Lord in ways so piercing that his words continue to enlighten centuries after his death, in languages and cultures nothing like his own.

A brief biographical sketch of Rumi is available here, and some older English translations are available online (links soon). Enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post