Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Orientalist Bon Mot

Many apologies are due for having all but disappeared but with the end of coursework, the beginning of comprehensive exams, and the unenviable task of writing a thesis proposal I have not had the chance to update much. I return (for now) with a little find from Charles Rieu's Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, vol. 1, p. 246. While describing the manuscript for Taẕkirat al-vāqi'āt of Jawhar Aftabchi Rieu notes that:

The Museum possesses an interleaved copy of the English version, Add. 26,608, [that is, Major Charles Stewart's translation] with extensive corrections in the manuscript, amounting almost to a re-translation of the work, by Mr. Wm. Erskine, to whom Major Yule had lent the present MS. The rough draught of the same corrections is preserved in Add. 26,620.

In a short notice prefixed to the former volume, Mr. Erskine passes on Major Stewart's version the following judgement, which, coming from so eminent an authority, carries great weight: "The translation of Major Stewart is no translation at all. It is full of errors. It adds, takes away, alters. It is not trust-worthy, and one does him no injustice in pronouncing him ignorant of the history and manners of the times, ignorant of the geography of the country, ignorant of the language, ignorant of the duty of a translator."

(Makes one doubly grateful for Wheeler M. Thackston's translation of the work!)

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