Who is Alive: The More or the Less the Inter-Semiotic Translation of 'The Conference of the Birds'
The Intersemiotics Translation Journal: Translation of Attar's "The Conference of the Birds" in Juan Ford and Tom Block's Translations: "Versejunkies" (VJ, ISSN: 2328-9171), vol. 1-1, 2013, pp: 40-46
7 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2013
Date Written: July 1, 2013
Farid al-din Attar (1146-1221), a Persian poet, composed his masterpiece ‘The Conference of the Birds’ (Mantiq al-tair) in 1177. Although other writers, notably Avicenna (980-1037), Mohammad Al-Ghazali (1058– 1112) and others authored similar works before him, the version attributed to Attar is considered by most scholars to be aesthetically superior to the others. Furthermore, a number of different inter-semiotic translations have been done from Attar’s work which reflects the significance of his work. How the Birds gather in a Conference: According to the poem's plot, thirty birds gather to decide who is to be their king. The wisest of them (the hoopoe) suggests that they should seek out the legendary Simorgh, a bird more or less analogous in the Western tradition to the mythical Phoenix. "Simorgh" literally translated means "thirty birds" and functions in Attar’s version of the poem as a metaphor for God. When the assembly of these thirty birds at last reaches the Simorgh nest, they find only their own reflections gazing back at them from the surface of a lake.
Attar organizes his poem so that each part is narrated by a different bird, and eventually the thirty individual frame stories accumulate to produce a single effect, uniting in a single construct-- a multiform but coherent and therefore superior bird. Because of its distinctive structure, Attar’s work is, by definition, an early example of macro-fiction.
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