Translation and the Globalisation of the Novel: Relevance and Limits of a Diffusionist Model

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

50 Downloads (Pure)


In his two books Atlas of the European Novel and Graphs, Maps, Trees, Franco Moretti presented models for the ‘distant reading’ of world litera-ture, including that of literary translation.1 This chapter considers, first, the relevance of Moretti’s approach for understanding translation in the area between the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf, and how it fits into a wider global literary system. Secondly, it tests the limits of Moretti’s dif-fusionist model and considers some variants and alternatives. Elsewhere, I have shown how a relatively ‘close’ reading within a single literary tradition (Arabic) can be combined with a broader framework informed by distant reading, working with Arabic translations of Fénelon’s Les aventures de Télémaque.2 This microfocus has led me to reflect more abstractly and broadly in the present chapter, surveying literary transla-tions from the seventeenth century to the present. The texts presented are, following Moretti’s initial instance of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, all novels or proto-novels which became popular to varying degrees across the world – including the southwest Asian region, which is the focus of this volume.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigrating Texts
Subtitle of host publicationCirculating Translations around the Ottoman Mediterranean
EditorsMarilyn Booth
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781474439015
ISBN (Print)9781474438995
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Cite this