By Denys Johnson-Davies
Nobody has performed extra for contemporary Arabic literature in translation than Denys Johnson-Davies, defined by means of the overdue Edward acknowledged as "the best Arabic–English translator of our time." With greater than twenty-five volumes of translated Arabic novels, brief tales, performs, and poetry to his identify, and a profession spanning a few sixty years, he has introduced the works of a number of writers from around the Arab global to an ever-widening English readership. the following he tells the tale of a lifestyles in translation, and provides intimate glimpses of some of the Arab writers who're turning into more and more recognized within the west. within the Forties, whereas instructing at Cairo college, he got here to understand such iconic figures as Yahya Hakki, Tewfik al-Hakim, Yusuf Idris, and naturally Naguib Mahfouz. Later whilst he lived in Beirut, that different nice literary middle of the Arab global, he frolicked with such poets as Tawfic Sayigh, Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, and Boland al-Haydari. He was once already a detailed good friend of Jabra Ibrahim...
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Extra info for Memories in Translation. A Life between the Lines of Arabic Literature
I was determined, whatever happened, not to pursue my unsuccessful studies of Hebrew, and announced that I was going to change to Persian. I was told that as I had not taken Persian in my first year, it was out of the question for me to try to cover two years of Persian in two terms (I had already lost one terra by working at the Censorship). However, no doubt Professor Loewe had similar feelings about me to mine about him and was glad not to have to go on teaching Hebrew to someone so set against it.
I was persuaded to take the Diploma of the School of Oriental Studies in Modern Arabic, which had recently been introduced. The set books, as far as I can remember, were al-Nazarat by al-Manfaluti, a writer who wrote essays in a floridly sentimental style; a selection of poems by three ‘modern’ poets, the Egyptians Ahmad Shawqi and Hafiz Ibrahim and the Lebanese Khalil Mutran; and a volume of political and philosophical writings by Muhammad Abduh. I found myself unimpressed by any of them, though I now realize that Ahmed Shawqi is widely admired.
It seems that I was not to be seen following the progress of the St Catharine’s boat in the ‘Bumps’ that were a yearly feature of rowing on the River Cam. I answered—quite reasonably, I thought—that I was not interested in rowing. I was then told that even if I wasn’t interested, I should at least show some interest when my college’s boat was involved. I was later to be in further trouble with my tutor when, having been given a place in the college squash team, I failed to make a place in the university team, and excused myself from continuing to play for my college.