, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 77-91

Voicing an Islamic Dante: The Problem of Translating the Commedia into Arabic

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Abstract

The Commedia of Dante Alighieri poses a range of problematic questions specific to the Muslim translator. Dante’s reliance upon Islamic sources, along with his polemical critique of the Muslim faithful, renders the Commedia one of the most challenging Christian texts to translate into an Islamic vernacular. Focussing upon Hasan ‹Uthmān’s Arabic edition of the Commedia, the present study seeks to identify the linguistic, literary and theological difficulties which must be addressed in rendering the Dantean canon for a Muslim audience. Exploring the intriguing textual complexities generated by ‹Uthmān’s Arabic Commedia, this paper reveals how the translation of Dante’s poem into the language of Islamic scripture provokes a subtle shift in its poetic constitution, as well as its religious import.