Rumi for the New-Age Soul: Coleman Barks and the Problems of Popular Translations

Barks, suffering from a particularly profitable case of researcher’s blindness, has flooded the market with a Rumi that has come to symbolize the individual beholden to no particular tradition, a man who seeks love before God or faith, all too familiar already in the canon of English, specifically American, literature. The result is a New Age poet, devoid of Islam, the 13th century, or the themes and images of the golden age of classical Persian poetry.
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Reframing Simin Behbahani: The Persian Poet in a Western Mirror

Writing “nation” on the body of Persian literature participates in the erasure of dynamic and ongoing conversations on genre, form, and style that have shaped the contours of this literary tradition across a vast geography that in the premodern world stretched from Anatolia to the Bay of Bengal. What does it mean to imagine Persian literature as a “national canon” even today?
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Rewriting Hafez: Re-theorizing Untranslatability in Persian Poetry

Translation can be characterized as an interplay between literary traditions, a process that illuminates the difference in approaches to and articulation of poeticity. Consequently, linguistic and cultural challenges arise that need to be addressed by the translator regardless of his or her approach to translation. The Persian literary tradition presents unique challenges that are particularly well-revealed in the ghazaliyyāt of Hafez of Shiraz, a poet who is widely read in Persianate societies. Poets and scholars alike have expressed the difficulty of translating Hafez.
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