Lost in (Mis)Translation: Paratextual Framing in Selected Arabic Translations of Orwell’s Animal Farm


Paratextuality plays a key role in cultural stereotyping and ideological framing of the translated texts and pre-positions the reader by setting certain expectations (Baker 2006). They also serve as a tool of adaptation (Genette 1997), superimposing certain interpretations of the author’s intentions and ideologies. Here, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an optimum example. The rising interest in its Arabic translation, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings bears on the politicized readings of the text, as manifested in the paratextual elements accompanying its translations. The present study investigates the role of paratextual renderings of Animal Farm in mainstreaming ideological frames and cultural stereotypes about the narrative. Drawing on Genette (1997), we close-read peritexts of the Arabic translations and probe potential paratextual functions. So far, sixteen plus Arabic translations of the novel have been published. This recent translational influx reflects, besides literary and cultural significance of the novella, an increasing interest in reading it as symbolizing the recent socio-political change. As a process where content transfer and transform(ation) overlap, translation involves an inevitable degree of bias (Venuti 2012). Orwell’s novella was largely appropriated by Arabic translators as a political manifesto, to the disregard of its other literary and cultural valances. For Arab readership, Animal Farm belongs to a long line of allegorical tales, not so much different from works like Kalila wa Dimna (The Panchatantra), where the political largely prevails over the literary. The present study thus draws on Lefevere (1992), Genette (1997), Kress and van Leeuwen (2006), Van Dijk (2003), and Baker (2006) in exploring paratextual elements as potential sites for translatorial/editorial intervention, ideological framing, and cultural appropriation of the translated text. It investigates the use of paratextual elements as sites for contestation of agency and validity, and also for interpretive foreclosure in ways that suppress/miss potential layers of meaning in the novella.


Mai Mowafy, Talaat Farouq Mohamed


Animal Farm, Arabic translation, paratextuality, ideological framing, interpretive foreclosure.


Albachten, Özlem Berk and Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar. (2019). “Introduction: Mutability in retranslation.” In Özlem Berk Albachten and Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar (eds). Studies from a Retranslation Culture: The Turkish Context. Singapore: Springer. Ali, Hisham. (2018). ‘Bourdieu and Genette in paratext: How sociology counts in linguistic reasoning’. International Journal of Society, Culture & Language, 6(2), 90-101. Amirdabbaghian, Amin and Rajah Kumaran, Shangeetha. (2020). ‘Translation and paratexts: A study of Animal Farm in Persian’. Russian Journal of Linguistics 24 (1). 80—95. DOI: 10.22363/2687-0088-2020-24-1-80-95. Arab Cultural Center. (n.d.) https://arabicculturalcenter.org/ (Retrieved on 3rd August, 2022). Baker, Mona. (2006). Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account. London: Routledge. Baker, Mona. (2007). ‘Reframing conflict in translation’. Social Semiotics, 17(2):151-169. Baker, Mona. (2013). ‘Translation as re-narration’. In Juliane House (ed.), Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 158-177. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Bassnett, Susan and André Lefevere. (1990). Translation, History and Culture. London: Printer Publishers. Batchelor, Kathryn. (2018): Translation and Paratexts. London and New York: Routledge. Butler, Michael. (2012). Selling a Just War: Framing, Legitimacy, and US Military Intervention. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Dar El-Shorouk (2022). https://www.shorouk.com/. (Retrieved on 5th August, 2022) Darwish, Ali. (2006). ‘Translating the news reframing constructed realities’. Translation Watch Quarterly. 2. Deane-Cox, Sharon. (2014). Retranslation: Translation, Literature and Reinterpretation. London: Bloomsbury. DeMello, Margo. (2012). Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies. New York: Columbia University Press. Genette, Gérard. (1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. (Lewin, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gray, Jonathan. (2015). ‘Afterword: Studying media with and without paratexts’. In L. Geraghty (ed.), Popular Media Cultures: Fans, Audiences and Paratexts, 230-237. London: Palgrave Macmillan Limited. Gürçağlar, Şehnaz Tahir. (2002). ‘What texts don’t tell: The use of paratexts in translation research’. In Theo Hermans (ed.). Crosscultural Transgressions. Research Models in Translation Studies II: Historical and Ideological Issues. 44–60. Manchester: St. Jerome. Gürçağlar, Şehnaz Tahir. (2009). ‘Retranslation’. In Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 233–236. Hamdan, Jihad M., Randa Naser and Hady Hamdan. (2021). ‘Arabic-English translation in the Palestinian–Israeli ‘conflict’: Ideology in the wings’. SKASE Journal of Translation and Interpretation, 14(2): 80-96. Hanna, Sameh. (2018). Why does the translator’s name disappear on the cover? Intellectuals and publishers answer this question. https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/1/20/%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B0%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D8%AE%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%89-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%85-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%BA%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%81-%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%82%D9%81%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%86/3610476 (Retrieved on 28th March, 2023) Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason. (1997). The Translator as Communicator. London and New York: Routledge. Hassan, Mohamed Abdul Gany. (1986). Fan At-Tarjamah fi Al-Adab Al-‘Arabi. Cairo: Al-Mustaqbal Publishing House. Hawkes, David. (1996). Ideology. London and New York: Routledge. Hermans, Theo. (1996). ‘The translator’s voice in translated narrative’. Target, 8(1), 23-48. Hijjo, Nael and Surin Kaur. (2017). ‘The paratextual analysis of English translations of Arabic media narratives on Daesh’. 3L The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. 23. 21-36. 10.17576/3L-2017-2303-02. Hoult-Saros, Stacy. 2016. The Mythology of the Animal Farm in Children's Literature: Over the Fence. Lanham: Lexington Books. Kaufman, Sanda, Michael Elliott and Deborah Shmueli. (2003). ‘Frames, Framing and Reframing’. In G. Burgess and H. Burgess. (eds.) Beyond Intractability. Conflict Information Consortium: University of Colorado, Boulder.http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/framing.[online] (Retrieved on 15th November, 2022). Kovala, Urpo. (1996). ‘Translations, paratextual mediation, and ideological closure’. Target. 8. 119-147. 10.1075/target.8.1.07kov. Kress, Gunther and Van Leeuwen, Teun. (2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London/ New York: Routledge. Lefevere, André. (1985). ‘Why waste our time on rewrites? The trouble with interpretation and the role of rewriting in an alternative paradigm’ In Theo Hermans (ed.), The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation, 215-243. London: Routledge. Lefèvere, André. (1992). Translating Literature: Practice and Theory in a Comparative Literature Context. New York: Modern Language Association. Letter from T. S. Eliot (Faber) to George Orwell rejecting Animal Farm, 13 July 1944. British Library. (n.d). https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/letter-from-t-s-eliot-faber-to-george-orwell-rejecting-animal-farm-13-july-1944. (Retrieved on 12th April, 2022) Marks, Peter. (2011) George Orwell the Essayist: Literature, Politics and the Periodical Culture. London: Continuum. Nergaard, Siri. (2013). ‘The (In)Visible publisher in translations. The publisher’s multiple translational voices’. In Authorial and Editorial Translation 2: Editorial and Publishing Practices, edited by Hanne Jansen and Anna Wegener, 177–208. Quebec: Éditions québécoises de l’oeuvre. Newsinger, John. (Spring 1999). ‘The American connection: George Orwell, ‘Literary Trotskyism’ and the New York intellectuals’. Labour History Review, 64.1, 23. Norris, Dennis, James McQueen, and Anne Cutler. (2003). ‘Perceptual learning in speech’. Cognitive Psychology. 47. 204-38. 10.1016/S0010-0285(03)00006-9. Oittinen, Riitta, Anne Ketola, and Melissa Garavini. (2017). Translating Picture Books. Revoicing the Verbal, the Visual and the Aural for a Child Audience. London: Routledge. Orwell, George. (2020). Animal Farm. (M. Salman, Trans.) Beirut: Dar Al Saqi Publisher (Original work published 1945). Orwell, George. (2014). Animal Farm. (M. Abdul-Ghany, Trans.) Cairo: Arab Cultural Center (Original work published 1945). Orwell, George. (2006). Animal Farm. (M. Al-Araimi, Trans.) Cairo: Arab Research and Studies Institute (Original work published 1945). Orwell, George. (1997). Animal Farm. (S. Al-Fadl, Trans.) Cairo: Egyptian Book Organization (Original work published 1945) Orwell, George. (2009). Animal Farm. (Sh. Abazhah, Trans.) Cairo: Dar El-Shorouk (Original work published 1945). Orwell, George. (2021). Politics Vs. Literature. United Kingdom: Renard Press Limited. Rubin, Andrew. (2008). ‘Orwell and empire: Anti-communism and globalization of literature’. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics. 28. 75–101. Salman, Sama. (2019). ‘A socio-narrative analysis of news websites' ideologies reflected in the use of translated excerpts from Arab female refugees' testimonies’. Cairo Studies in English, 2018(1), 89-100. 10.21608/cse.2019.33902. Schiavi, Giuliana. (1996). ‘There is always a teller in a tale.’ Target 8(1): 1–21. Selim, Samah. (2018). ‘Politics and paratext: On translating Arwa Salih’s al-Mubtasarun’. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 38: 180-202. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26496374 Shamma, Tarek. (2015). ‘The Arabian Nights after orientalism: Paratextual sites of reflection and dialogue’. In Şebnem Bahadır and Dilek Dizdar (eds.) Reflexive Translation Studies, 177-187. John Benjamins: Amsterdam. Summers, Caroline. (2013). ‘What remains: The institutional refraining of authorship in translated peritexts’. In Valerie Pellatt (ed.), Text, Extratext, Metatext and Paratext in Translation, 9– 31. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Taivalkoski-Shilov, Kristiina. (2015). ‘Friday in Finnish: A character’s and (re)translators’ voices in six Finnish retranslations of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe’. In Cecilia Alvstad and Alexandra Assis Rosa. (eds) Voice in Retranslation. special issue, Target 27 (1): 58–74. doi:10.1075/target.27.1.03tai Van Dijk, Teun. (2003). ‘The discourse-knowledge interface’. In Gilbert Weiss, and Ruth Wodak (eds.), Critical Discourse Analysis (85-109). Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan. Van Dijk, Teun. (2006). ‘Discourse and manipulation’. Discourse & Society, 17(3), 359–383. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926506060250 Venuti, Lawrence. (1995). The Translator’s Invisibility: A Hstory of Translation. London and New York: Routledge. Venuti, Lawrence. (2004). ‘Retranslations: The creation of value’. In Katherine M. Faull (ed.), Translation and culture. Special Issue of Bucknell Review, Venuti, Lawrence. (2012). Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice. 1-276. 10.4324/9780203074428. Venuti, Lawrence. (2013). ‘Retranslations: The creation of value’. In Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice, 96–108. New York: Routledge. Wardle, Mary Louise. (2012). ‘Alice in Busi-land: The reciprocal relation between text and paratext’. In Anna Gil-Bardaji, Pilar Orero and Sara Rovira-Esteva (eds): Translation peripheries: Paratextual Eements in Translation. Bern: Lang, 27–42. Wendland, Ernst. (2010). ‘Framing the frames: A theoretical framework for the cognitive notion of frames of reference’. Journal of Translation, 6(1), 27-50. https://eclass.uoa.gr/modules/document/file.php/ENL177/SIMPLE%20FRAMING%20AN% 20INTRODUCTION%20TO%20FRAMING%20AND%20ITS%20USES%20IN%20POLIT ICS.pdf. (Retrieved on 23rd March, 2018). Yari, Ameneh and Amirian Zahra. (2022). ‘Gender and paratextual visibility: A case study of Iranian fiction translators’. Journal of Language Horizons, 6(3), 49-63. doi: 10.22051/lghor.2021.34800.1434 Youssef, Saadi. (2020). The Return to George Orwell. العودة إلى جورج أورويل (saadiyousif.com). (Retrieved on 12th April, 2022). Zabadi, Ihssan. (2022). ‘Framing post-2011 Syria in the translation of Samar Yazbek’s Bawa:ba:t ard alʿadam: The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria’. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies, 22(2), 265-288. https://doi.org/10.33806/ijaes2000.22.2.15 Zhang, Qun-xing. (2016). ‘Translator’s voice in translated texts’. Journal of Literature and Art Studies, 6(2), 178-185. DOI: 10.17265/2159-5836/2016.02.007.