Translating the Untranslatable

Spring 2018 Grant Recipient


Mehr Farooqi and Jane Mikkelson (Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures) There are oceans of writing in Urdu and Persian that have not been translated into other languages. In the case of Indo-Persian, a slew of texts became "homeless" because of territorial divisions. Historians of modern India often view Persian as a language of the medieval Mughal court and find it unnecessary to explore Persian texts of modernity. Iranian literati view Persian texts produced outside Iran as unworthy of attention. The great ninth century poet Ghalib's Persian prose output has suffered because it does not fit in the historio-cultural milieu of India or Iran. Yet, the struggle of a writer who is not ethnically Persian to win recognition across literary, historical, geographical borders is a story that merits deeper attention. Translation is perhaps the only way to bring Ghalib's ideas to a bigger audience. We hope our translation of Ghalib's Foreword to his Persian poetry collection will open new doors.