The Poetics from Athens to al-Andalus: Ibn Rushd's Grounds for Comparison

Modern Philology 112.1 (2014): 1-24.

24 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2015

See all articles by Rebecca Ruth Gould

Rebecca Ruth Gould

University of Birmingham; Harvard University - Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies

Date Written: January 10, 2015

Abstract

The Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Poetics by the Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) has been treated by commentators as wide-ranging as Borges, Renan, and Kilito as an exemplary case of the failure of translation. Critics who presume Ibn Rushd's failure often concentrate on his rendering of Aristotle's tragedy and comedy by praise (madīh) and blame (hijā’). Taking account of Ibn Rushd's stated intention of using Aristotle‘s Poetics to facilitate comparative literary analysis, I argue here that far from representing a failure of comprehension, the rendering of tragedy and comedy as praise and blame respectively offered the Arabic philosopher a useful means of conceiving literary form outside the confines of a single literary tradition. Contrary to recent arguments in contemporary translation theory, Ibn Rushd's methodical appropriation of Aristotle's treatise suggests that at certain cultural junctures pursuing the path of fluency and localization can accomplish more than literalist foreignization.

Keywords: cross-cultural poetics, translation, reception, Greek, Arabic, literary theory, mistranslation, Borges, Ibn Rushd, Aristotle

Suggested Citation

Gould, Rebecca Ruth, The Poetics from Athens to al-Andalus: Ibn Rushd's Grounds for Comparison (January 10, 2015). Modern Philology 112.1 (2014): 1-24.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2548069

Rebecca Ruth Gould (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham ( email )

College of Arts and Law
Birmingham, UK, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom
https://rrgould.hcommons.org/ (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/rebeccagould

Harvard University - Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies ( email )

1730 Cambridge Street, 3rd Floor
Cambridge, 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://daviscenter.fas.harvard.edu/about-us/people/rebecca-gould

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