Women Moving Across Cultures: The Representation of Zahra’s Character in the English Version of Hanan Al-Shaykh’s The Story of Zahra

Patricia Zaylah, Hoda Hilal, Lea Yahchouchi

Abstract


Given the central role language plays in promoting social justice, feminist translation calls for the adoption of a specific approach of language to highlight women’s issues and subvert patriarchal ideologies. However, the application of this approach varies among local and international contexts that hold different views of feminism. This study evaluates the translation of Ḥikāyat Zahrah (1995) (literally, Zahra’s Tale), written by Lebanese author Hanan Al-Shaykh (1986) and translated by Peter Ford, from a feminist translation perspective. The aim of this paper is to analyze the representation of the female protagonist in the English version as compared to the Arabic one. It examines how Zahra’s character was transferred, studying her experiences, feelings, and thoughts, and evaluating whether the translator’s interventions altered her image in the English version. The paper seeks to answer the following questions: How is Zahra’s character affected as she moves from the Arab culture to a Western one? Does the translation reinforce, mitigate, or disregard the feminist issues raised through Zahra’s character? Did the translator Peter Ford apply feminist translation strategies? To that end, a corpus-based comparative analysis was conducted where translation examples were analyzed to determine whether the translator’s interventions serve the novel’s feminist message. The results show that only 21% of the examples illustrate the feminist translation approach, while the rest overlook the feminist nuances of the text. It can be concluded that the translator produced a culturally and ideologically accepted version of the novel that fits Western stereotypes rather than foregrounding Arab women’s issues and experiences.

Keywords


Feminist Translation, Arab Women, Feminism, Women’s Issues, Hanan Al-Shaykh

Full Text:

PDF

References


al-Shaykh, Ḥ. (1986). Ḥikāyat Zahra. Dar Al Adab.

al-Shaykh, Ḥn. (1995). The Story of Zahra (1st Anchor Books pbk. Ed.). Anchor Books, translated by Peter Ford.

Animal Hype. (n.d.). Snails Symbolism and Meaning (Totem, Spirit and Omens). https://animalhype.com/symbolism/snail

Andone, O. (2002). Gender issues in translation. Perspectives, 10(2), 135–150. https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2002.9961439

Beat. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beat

Castro, O., & Ergun, E. (2018). Translation and Feminism. In J. Evans & F. Fernandez (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics (pp. 125–143). Routledge. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/226615384.pdf

Chen, T., Lian, K., Lorenza, D., Shazad, N., & Wong, R. (2020). Occidenlization of Beauty Standards: Eurocentrism in Asia. International Socioeconomics Laboratory, 1(2), 1-11. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4325856

de Beauvoir, S. (1983). The Second Sex. Knopf.

Ghaly, S. (1997). Subversive Discourses in Hanan Al-Shaykh: Pushing out the Boundaries of Arab Feminism in the Novel. Al-Raida Journal, 14(78), 15–20. https://doi.org/10.32380/alrj.v0i0.745

Hartman, M. (2012). Gender, Genre, and the (Missing) Gazelle: Arab Women Writers and the Politics of Translation. 38(1), 17–49. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23269168

Hartman, M. (2020). “Zahra’s Uncle, or Where Are Men in Women’s War Stories?” Journal of Arabic Literature, 51(1–2), 83–107. https://doi.org/10.1163/1570064x-12341401

Kabbani, R. (1988). Fatal Passivity: Women in Arabic Fiction. 10(1), 338–341. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3992829

Koudja, B. (2019). Feminist Translation Applied on Specimens of Nawel Saadaoui’s and Ahlem Mosteghanemi’s Novels. 1(20), 117–130.

Larson, C. R. (1991). The Fiction of Hanan Al-Shaykh, Reluctant Feminist. World Literature Today, 65(1), 14–17. https://doi.org/10.2307/40146112

Massardier-Kenney, F. (1997). Towards a Redefinition of Feminist Translation Practice. The Translator, 3(1), 55–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.1997.10798988

Mendoza, B. (2002). Transnational feminisms in question. Feminist Theory, 3(3), 295–314. https://doi.org/10.1177/146470002762492015

Palacios, M. (2014). Translation in the feminine: Theory, commitment and (good) praxis. Women’s Studies International Forum, 42, 87–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2013.06.003

Plainness. (n.d.). In Cambridge English Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/plainness

Qurandream. (n.d). Snails in Dream. Qurandream.com/snail

Ṣafaʿa. (n.d.). In Almaany. https://www.almaany.com/ar/dict/ar-ar/%D8%B5%D9%81%D8%B9

Simon, S. (1996). Gender in Translation: Culture Identity and Politics of Transmission. http://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=179524

von Flotow, L. (1991). Feminist Translation: Contexts, Practices and Theories. TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction, 4(2), 69–84.

von Flotow, L. (2017). On the Challenges of Transnational Feminist Translation Studies. TTR, 30(1–2), 173–194. https://doi.org/10.7202/1060023ar

Wallmach, K. (2006). Feminist translation strategies: Different or derived? Journal of Literary Studies, 22(1–2), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/02564710608530388




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.9n.4p.1

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2021 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.