The Arabic Adventures of Télémaque: Trajectory of a Global Enlightenment Text in the Nahdah

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Abstract

The Marquis de Fénelon's internationally popular didactic narrative, Les aventures de Télémaque, went through a remarkable number of metamorphoses in the Nahḍah, the Arab world's cultural revival movement of the long nineteenth century. This article examines two early manuscript translations by Syrian Christian writers in the 1810s, the rhymed prose version by Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ al-Ṭahṭāwī in the 1860s; its rewriting by Shāhīn ʿAṭiyyah in 1885; and Saʿdallāh al-Bustānī's musical drama of 1869, the basis for performances later in the century by the famous actor Salāmah Ḥijāzī. Placing Télémaque's Arabic trajectory within its global vogue in the Enlightenment suggests ways of reading the Nahḍah between theories of world literature and 'transnational mass-texts', and more specific local histories of translation and literary adaptation. The ambiguity of Télémaque, its hybrid and transitional form,was important to its success in milieux facing analogous kinds of hybridity and transition—among them those of the Arab Nahḍah.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-203
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Volume49
Issue number3
Early online date17 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018

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