Critical Assessment Of The Translation Of “Araby” By “James Joyce”

Critical Assessment Of The Translation Of  “Araby” By “James Joyce


Mehdi Mashayekhi



The work done here is a comparative study of an original English text, “Araby”, from “Dubliners” by “James Joyce” with its Persian translation by “M.A. Safarian”. The aim has been to reach a conclusion about the translated work by critically assessing it.


It is quite evident that for translating any text, even a simple paragraph, what is vital and in fact the first step is comprehension, that is the text must be understood syntactically and semantically, let alone to a complicated work of literature like this one. Therefore, what I do first is considering literary aspects of the work as far as it relates to translation. In other words, I want to elaborate on what the translator had to find out about the text  before starting translation.


“Araby” is a story of a motion, a motion from ignorance  to experience that of course happens for the main character , the boy. There is an atmosphere in the whole story inculcating this ignorance. A gloomy, dismal and dull atmosphere which is associated with the boy’s ignorance. We have this type of image and atmosphere up to the end of the story, where he seems to receive a shock and is triggered and awakened from the ignorance on the basis of which he had constructed his wishes and love.


What the translator must bear in mind is to create the same atmosphere using appropriate diction and structure in the target Persian text. This is how he can transfer the same effect to Persian-speaking reader and claim to have succeeded achieving a sort of dynamic equivalence (equivalence in effect, as Nida says) between source and target text.


Based on these assumptions about the work, I have developed my categorization of the comments and errors in the translated work as follows:











A) Translations of sentences and phrases directly relating to the       literary aspects of the story regarding its atmosphere and image:


1-    خیابان ریچموند شمالی به سبب کوری  جز در ساعاتی که…


North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street…


(According to what the critic explains in book index, although   this equivalence is not natural in Persian at all and instead we say: بست بن    the word has intentionally been chosen to emphasize the character’s blindness and naivety.)  


2-    هوای نمورونا گرفته ، به سبب بسته بودن، اکنون در همه اتاقها شناور بود…


Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms…


(هوای خانه پر از بوی نمی  بود که در اثر بسته بودن در و پنجره ها ایجاد شده بود.)

{My Suggestion}


(I believe, as a native Persian speaker, that the word underlined doesn’t sound natural and even meaningful enough, so there is a danger of lack of transferring the image and consequently the effect.   Instead the equivalence suggested has more frequency in daily speaking.)


 3 – وقتی در خیابان گرد می آمدیم خانه ها دیگر تار شده بود. 


“When we met in the streets, the houses had grown somber.”


(…هوا تاریک شده بود.) {My Suggestion}


(I think the Persian sentence suffers lack of innovation, the original sentence is acceptable as a form of figurative speech but this does not necessarily mean that the literal translation into Persian can also create a sentence with figurative language. This item could be a good example why a literary translator should also be a good writer or poet.)


4- آ سمان بالای سرمان به رنگ بنفش دائم التغییر بود و چراغهای خیابان نور ضعیف

      فانوس خود را افراشته بودند.


“The space of sky above us was the color of ever-changing violet

and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns.”


(رنگ بنفش آسمان بالای سرمان دائما در حال تغییر بود و چراغهای خیابان نور ضعیفی میتاباندند.){My Suggestion}


(The color “violet” is particularly important for it serves much to creating a gloomy image in the setting of the story, therefore the structure must be in a way to create a similar image in the mind of the reader, or an idiomatic literal translation would suffice.)



B) Sentences translations of which are unintelligible and   unnatural:            


1-هوای سرد نیشمان می زد…

“The cold air stung us.”

  (هوا حسابی سوز داشت.) {My Suggestion}


(Similar to part A No.3, the original sentence is acceptable but not the translated one, creativity is needed, or it had better be in a natural, simple but understandable Persian sentence form.)



2- اندام قهوه ای رنگش را از نظر دور نمیداشتم…   

 “I kept her brown figure always in my eye…”


  (اندام قهوه ای پوش…) {My Suggestion}



3- نام او همچون فرمانی به دل شوریده ام بود.


“…her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.”


(نام او تمام وجودم را فرا میخواند/ تحت تاثیر قرار میداد.) {My Suggestion}


(Taking “foolish blood” as        , in my opinion is all right, but “summons” as              , and their combination in one sentence   doesn’t transfer the idea, I suppose.)      



    4– …خودم را به صورت موجودی در نظر آوردم که زمامدار و لعبت بازش غرور است


I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity


(…که بازیچه غرور بچه گانه خود شده است ) {My Suggestion}


(This sentence is particularly significant, for it is the last sentence of the story and is having a very heavy sense, therefore its intelligibility and understandability is important as well as its having a literary sense, I think the translator has failed in the very first step.)


C) Sentences containing concepts which are culture-bound          and might cause difficulty finding an appropriate and              understandable equivalence.


1- متاسفم که به خاطر امشب که شب پروردگارمان است بازار رفتنت به تاخیر می افتد.


“I’m afraid you may put off your bazaar for this Night of our Lord.”


(How many Iranian Persian-speakers know what is the “Night of Lord”?, it is exactly similar to the fact that few native English-speakers are likely to be familiar with the concept of “Moharram”       “Shab-e-Ghadr” “Ashura & Tasua” and so on, here it is the translator’s responsibility, as the one who is bridging the gap between two cultures, to provide his reader with enough information about these “culture-specific items” in footnote.)


2- همش کارو بازی هیچ، بچه می گردد خرفت.


“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”


(We are dealing with a proverb; needless to say that very few proverbs happen to have a similar equivalent in another language. In translating a proverb we have to get the image and underlying concept and state it simply, without trying to coin a new proverb in the target language, as we see the result would necessarily be ridiculous and unintelligible.)








 D) Intelligible, natural example of translation:


   Critical review involves considering both advantages and         disadvantages of a given work, something often forgotten by    the reviewers. Following is an example of an admiring             translation:


” مردم دیگر خوابیده اند و چه بسا هفت پادشاه را هم خواب دیده اند.”


“The people are in bed and after their first sleep now.” 



Studying these comments in detail, I think the translator has much attempted to remain “loyal” to the text and this loyalty sometimes has been to the cost of failing to create a suitable image in the Persian text(as in part A), sounding unnatural(as in part B) and failing to transfer culture-bound items and even providing the reader with a foot-note(as in part C). However, it does have advantages as mentioned in part D. To sum up, I believe despite the disadvantages, the translation is worth considering,  for it is having the function of bridging the gap and introducing a literary face and also a new work from one culture to another.


One Response to Critical Assessment Of The Translation Of “Araby” By “James Joyce”

  1. reyhane says:

    please send me translation of this story

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