Lecture: ‘Blind Spots’, Anton Shammas

Blind Spots: A Millennium of Arabic in Translation – from Ibn Al-Haytham to William Faulkner via Don Quixote. Lecture by Anton Shammas at the Conference Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB. 14th October 2016, 7pm.

Tickets: £10 (£8 over 60, £7 student, registered unemployed, under 18, & other concessions)

To mark 10 years of awarding prizes for great contemporary Arabic literature in English translation, the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is establishing an Annual  Lecture. 

In his lecture, the well-known Palestinian author and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature will reveal hitherto hidden connections between Arabic learning and western literature and art as he examines the emergence of the western novel as a literary genre, including how the foundational Optics of 11th-century mathematician Ibn Al-Haytham ignited the Renaissance when translated into Latin and Italian. He will ask why Cervantes would claim that Don Quixote, ‘the first great novel of world literature’, was a history translated from Arabic, paying tribute to the vanished Muslim population of Spain, and will consider the often unconscious transcribing of these influences into the work of later artists and writers, including Velazquez, Picasso and William Faulkner. 

Anton Shammas is a Palestinian author, essayist and translator who works in and between Arabic, Hebrew and English. He has been Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor since 1997. His novel Arabesques (1986), was one of the first by a Palestinian written in Hebrew and has been translated into eight languages including English (1988), French, German, Spanish and Italian. He has written three plays and has three poetry collections, the first written in Arabic, the second and third in Hebrew. Among the playwrights and authors he has translated are Dario Fo, Athol Fugard, Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Emile Habiby and Taha Muhammad Ali.

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