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The Arabian Nights in Historical ContextBetween East and West$
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Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554157.001.0001

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Translation in the Contact Zone: Antoine Galland's Mille et une nuits: contes arabes

Translation in the Contact Zone: Antoine Galland's Mille et une nuits: contes arabes

(p.25) 1 Translation in the Contact Zone: Antoine Galland's Mille et une nuits: contes arabes
The Arabian Nights in Historical Context

Madeleine Dobie

Oxford University Press

Galland's translation of the Thousand and One Nights is usually viewed as a point of departure: for the oriental tale, for European orientalism, for the global as opposed to the Arabic history of the Nights story. Galland is, however, better understood as a continuator, and his translation, and the corpus of retranslations, manuscript, and printed sources that followed it, seen as products of the interface between European/Romance and Arabic cultures. Scholars' failure to address adequately the trans- or inter-cultural status of the Nights reflects, at bottom, the epistemological difficulties attending the representation of cultural contact. Contact zones have predominantly been conceptualized in terms of geographical encounters or co-presences, yet they more often take the form of layered, discontinuous processes that are resistant to representation. Focusing on three different contexts: the translation's roots in Galland's scholarship and travels; the reception of the Nights in 18th-century France, and major contemporary critical readings, this chapter considers what is involved in viewing the Nights as products of cultural encounter.

Keywords:   contact zone, cultural transfer, intertextuality, Translatio studii, Oriental tale, the style oriental, Galland's Journal

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