Beyond Orientalism: when Marceline Desbordes-Valmore carried Saʿdi’s Roses to France

Hartley, J. C. (2019) Beyond Orientalism: when Marceline Desbordes-Valmore carried Saʿdi’s Roses to France. Iranian Studies, 52(5-6), pp. 785-808. (doi: 10.1080/00210862.2019.1626223)

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This article follows a thread of translation and intertextual dialogue, taking us from the thirteenth-century Persian poet Saʿdi to the nineteenth-century French poet Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. It reads Desbordes-Valmore’s poem ‘Les roses de Saadi’ (1860) with the two passages from Saʿdi’s Golestān from which it was inspired, shedding new light on the poem’s metapoetic subtext. The original Persian text is compared to two French translations that were circulating at the time when Desbordes-Valmore was writing. This analysis of the Golestān’s reception forms the basis for the argument that Desbordes-Valmore recast in secular terms Saʿdi’s discourse on poetic language, emphasizing the continuity, rather than difference, between her concerns and Saʿdi’s. The case of Desbordes-Valmore thus reveals a forgotten facet of nineteenth-century French engagements with Middle Eastern culture: one of identification and literary influence, which existed alongside the processes of “othering” for which the period is better known.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hartley, Dr Julia
Authors: Hartley, J. C.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Comparative Literature
Journal Name:Iranian Studies
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1475-4819
Published Online:01 January 2019

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