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In the Shadow of World LiteratureSites of Reading in Colonial Egypt$
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Michael Allan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167824

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167824.001.0001

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Translation

Translation

The Rosetta Stone from Object to Text

Chapter:
(p.39) 2 Translation
Source:
In the Shadow of World Literature
Author(s):

Michael Allan

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691167824.003.0003

This chapter considers translation in terms of how a particular relationship to language is born with the decoding of the Rosetta Stone. It shows how the Rosetta Stone is transformed from an object to a text to be deciphered, decoded, and analyzed by an international network of scholars. What is discovered with the Rosetta Stone, the chapter argues, is less an object than a particular textuality based on an understanding of language as a code. It also explains how the translational ethic that points to the equivalence of Greek and hieroglyphics actually levels the political and theological distinctions between the three languages: the Greek language, the language of politics, demotic, and hieroglyphics, the language of the gods. This phenomenological leveling of languages is ultimately read in relation to the comparative gesture of world literature, which levels distinctions between literature and scripture under an emergent paradigm of modern literary reading.

Keywords:   translation, Greek language, decoding, Rosetta Stone, textuality, hieroglyphics, world literature, scripture, reading

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