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1 - Ali and Nino: The Novel as/of Cultural Translation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2017

Azade Seyhan
Affiliation:
earned her PhD in Germanics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and is currently the Fairbank Professor in the Humanities, professor of German and comparative literature, and affiliated faculty in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College
Carl Niekerk
Affiliation:
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Cori Crane
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

MANY YEARS AGO in a different age and place, in a bookstore that carried English-language books in an upscale neighborhood of Ankara, I found a novel, titled Ali and Nino, by a certain Kurban Said, an author I had never heard of. The name was undeniably one of someone from the Middle East. Thus, I was surprised to find out that the book was translated from the original German. Kurban Said was obviously a pseudonym, but whose? A few years later, this time as a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle, I found another copy of Ali and Nino in a used bookstore. By then, I had lost or misplaced the first one. None of my well-read professors nor any of my bookish graduate school friends had ever heard of this book written in German, though resonating with memories of other languages: Persian, Azeri, Russian, and Turkish. Who was this modern Heine, or even Nietzsche, with a piercing insight into religion, morality, and slave and philistine mentality? Wrapped in a cross-cultural and star-crossed love story, the novel chronicled the devastation brought upon the oil rich city of Baku in Azerbaijan by the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution. At the time, I thought this short novel would be a stimulating and informative addition to the German major reading list, but the book was out of print, and we were still bound by the “canon of German literature.”

Some time ago I found the English translation of another novel by this mysterious Said, The Girl from the Golden Horn (Das Mädchen vom Goldenen Horn, 1938), whose protagonist Aziyadeh, a young woman from the Ottoman court and student of Oriental languages in Berlin, was forced into exile with her widowed father when the Ottoman dynasty was banished after the First World War. Coincidentally, another Aziyadé (spelled slightly differently in French) is also the protagonist of Pierre Loti's Orientalist novel Aziyadé (1879). But this Said clearly was no Orientalist in the sense established by the other Said, Edward Said, who defined Orientalism as a methodological and disciplinary appropriation of the cultures of the Orient in its broadest geographical parameters. He (or perhaps she?) seemed to be writing from the inside…

Type
Chapter
Information
Approaches to Kurban Said's Ali and Nino
Love, Identity, and Intercultural Conflict
, pp. 15 - 28
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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  • Ali and Nino: The Novel as/of Cultural Translation
    • By Azade Seyhan, earned her PhD in Germanics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and is currently the Fairbank Professor in the Humanities, professor of German and comparative literature, and affiliated faculty in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College
  • Edited by Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Cori Crane, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Approaches to Kurban Said's <I>Ali and Nino</I>
  • Online publication: 30 August 2017
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  • Ali and Nino: The Novel as/of Cultural Translation
    • By Azade Seyhan, earned her PhD in Germanics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and is currently the Fairbank Professor in the Humanities, professor of German and comparative literature, and affiliated faculty in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College
  • Edited by Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Cori Crane, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Approaches to Kurban Said's <I>Ali and Nino</I>
  • Online publication: 30 August 2017
Available formats
×

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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Ali and Nino: The Novel as/of Cultural Translation
    • By Azade Seyhan, earned her PhD in Germanics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and is currently the Fairbank Professor in the Humanities, professor of German and comparative literature, and affiliated faculty in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College
  • Edited by Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Cori Crane, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Approaches to Kurban Said's <I>Ali and Nino</I>
  • Online publication: 30 August 2017
Available formats
×