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Travel and translation: The Case of Karin Johnsson

Chapter in book
Authors Tetz Rooke
Published in Borders and the Changing Boundaries of Knowledge. Transactions vol. 22. Eds. Inga Brandell, Marie Carlson and Önver A. Çetrez,
Pages 129-144
ISBN 978-91-978813-3-3
Publisher Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul
Place of publication Istanbul
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 129-144
Language en
Keywords Travel literature, Translation from Arabic, Women travelers, Karin Johnsson, Translation and Colonialism, Munif al-Husayni, domestication, Swedish-Palestinian relations, Swedish Orientalism
Subject categories Arabic language, General Literature Studies, Specific Literatures


This chapter presents a critical reading from a translation studies perspective of five travel books about the Middle East written in the 1930s by the Swedish writer, translator and photographer Karin Johnsson (1889-1968). Her writing represents an example of the link between travel and translation. In her “Oriental adventures” she featured a number of famous love stories and love poems from classical Arabic literature as free translations. Raised in a long Swedish tradition of orientalizing literature, which constitutes the implicit context for her and her readers, she made these translations conform to the established clichés of Arab-Oriental passion and manipulated the texts on many levels. But despite a pervasive colonial perspective and examples of racist discourse, Johnsson’s travel books also show a development in attitude from an initial ridicule of the Arabs as a people to a more empathic approach at the end.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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