Nearly twently years’ worth of Arabic literature in translation — as well as reviews, interviews, and event reports — have been put online in a searchable archive:
Banipal, the only major magazine to take contemporary Arabic literature in translation as its main focus for a nearly two-decade span, has just, with the help of Exact Editions, put its complete 19-year archive online.
The issues, which represent the work of dozens of authors and translators, go all the way back to the first one, from February 1998. The early editions, available both as scans and text, are a less elegant experience than the online issues from the 2010s. Yet a reader can still use the table of contents to flip to, for instance, a photo of a much-younger Adonis with poems from his Songs of Mihyar the Damascene, in the 1998 issue translated by Kamal Abu-Deeb. They are both interesting in their own right and bear interesting comparison to the translations done by Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard.
The collection, available via an app or online, should certainly be a go-to resource for emerging translators and scholars, as well as the not-so-casual reader. Subscribers can browse all 57 past issues. A complete list of contributors can be found online, as can a rundown of each issue.
The search function allows easy access to authors, translators, and most importantly topics and word choice across the whole of the archive. According to Exact Editions, “Every single word is covered by the…search system.” The word prison, for instance, turned up more than twenty pages of results.
In the news release, Banipal publisher Margaret Obank said of the launch:
This exciting collaboration with Exact Editions will help further Banipal’s role as a vehicle for intercultural exchange that opens a window for Western audiences on the realities of Arab culture in all its diversity and vibrancy, allowing Arab literature to take its rightful place in the canon of world literature.
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