Encountering the Foreign in Alice in Wonderland and its Arabic Translations


This study examines Lewis Carroll’s Alice through the cultural glass of the Arabic translations of Alice in Wonderland by Amira Kiwan (2003), Shakir Nasr Al Deen (2012), Siham Bint Saniya (2013), and Nadia Al Kholy (2013), and of Through the Looking-Glass by Siham Bint Saniya (2013). It seeks to explore the engagement of several issues of language and meaning, and of foreignness and otherness, in both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass with the aid of a simultaneous examination of how key moments in the works are translated into Arabic. This exploration, in a cross-disciplinary study that combines both close-reading post-colonial literary analysis and Venuti’s identification of domestication and foreignization as strategies of translation, sheds light both on the original works or source texts (STs) and on the translations or target texts (TTs) that transmit them to their respective Egyptian, Jordanian, and Moroccan Arab readers. The Alice that emerges is a divided one, simultaneously both language learner and guardian of the rules of language, explorer-foreigner and imperialist, vulnerable child, and tyrannical queen. In the TTs there is also a split between literary sophistication and playful childhood nonsense, difficult post-colonial text and celebration of local childhood culture. Further, the TTs are treated by their translators as at once entertaining childhood adventure domesticated to local tastes and also as complex literary allegory whose political source-text is preserved and adjusted for a more sophisticated adult target audience.


Andrew J. Power, Eman Ibrahim Albawab, and Dana W. Muwafi


Alice in Wonderland, cross-cultural encounter, foreignness, imperialism, translation, travel