Blind Spots: A millennium of Arabic in translation

Anton Shammas

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Anton Shammas gives the inaugural annual lecture of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

He explores the hitherto concealed connections between Arabic learning and western literature and art. He asks why Cervantes would claim that Don Quixote, ‘the first great novel of world literature’ was a history translated from Arabic, paying tribute to the vanished  Muslim population of Spain; how the foundational Optics of 11th-century Cairo mathematician Ibn Al-Haytham ignited the Renaissance when translated into Latin and Italian; and considers the often unconscious transcribing of these influences into the work of later artists and writers, including Velazquez, Picasso and William Faulkner.

Anton Shammas is a Palestinian author, essayist and translator who works in and between Arabic, Hebrew and English. He has been Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor since 1997. His novel Arabesques (1986), was one of the first by a Palestinian written in Hebrew and has been translated into eight languages including English (1988), French, German, Spanish and Italian. He has written three plays and has three poetry collections, the first written in Arabic, the second and third in Hebrew. Among the playwrights and authors he has translated are Dario Fo, Athol Fugard, Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Emile Habiby and Taha Muhammad Ali. He is currently working on a collection Blind Spots and other essays on translation.

To mark the 10th year of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, Omar Saif Ghobash and his family extend their sponsorship to the establishment of an annual lecture series.


Name: Blind Spots: A millennium of Arabic in translation
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546