Abd al-Rahman Jami's Lawami': A Translation Study

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DuBois, Marlene Rene
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
This dissertation discusses a 13th century Arabic poem, the Khamriyya (Wine Ode) by `Umar Ibn al-Farid (576-632/1181-1235) and a 15th century Persian commentary Lawami': Sharh-i Khamriyyat-i Faridiyya (Sparks: Explanation of the Khamriyya of Ibn Farid) by `Abd al-Rahman Jami (817-898/1414-1492). It places Ibn al-Farid in a historical, religious and literary context, and discusses the imagery of wine-drinking in both pre-Islamic and Islamic thought. It addresses the philosophical connections that were made later between Ibn al-Farid and Ibn `Arabi (d. 637/1240), and aims to show how Jami, of the school of Ibn `Arabi, brings his own interpretive framework to his commentary of Ibn al-Farid's poem, and embodies the ideals of his school of thought in the form of his commentary. In order to show Jami's particular interpretive stance, this dissertation explains how a careful translation methodology that takes into account considerations of genre, readership and style--all of which are naturally limited by one culture's knowledge of another's literary and cultural history--are necessary for translation efficacy. The history of translation of Islamic texts by the West--which was fraught with the problems of Old-school Orientalism--illustrates the gradual transformation in translation efficacy, from the ideologically-driven translations of Islamic texts, to the particular issues that always exist in translating Arabic and Persian, no matter what the time period. To illustrate the subtle differences that can exist between two commentaries on the same poem by authors from a single school of thought--which can only be brought out through careful translations--this dissertation includes a comparison of Jami's commentary to that of al-Qaysari (fl. 8th/14th c.). Finally, this dissertation presents a selection of Jami's Lawami' in translation. The chosen selection is one wherein Jami discusses the process by which ideas are"clothed in form" and how human beings use metaphoric language to convey thought about things without form. Here we will understand Jami through a translation that consults the cumulative knowledge of his school of thought and a methodology that claims limited efficacy--insofar as technical language from Arabic can be preserved and the poesy of Persian can be conveyed.