The Genesis of the Translation of Children’s Classics: A Bourdieusian Account of ʿAbd al- Fattāḥ Ṣabrī’s Translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1909)


Keywords: A Bourdieusian Account, Children’s Classics, field, habitus, translated Gulliver’s Travels (1909)


Recently, Bourdieu’s sociological theory has been applied in translation studies. Based on Bourdieu’s assumption that individuals’ practices result from the interwoven relation between their habitus and the field in which they grow up and work, ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ṣabrī’s translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1909) was chosen as a testing ground, through which this assumption will be proven or rejected. This paper aims to contribute to the growing area of sociological research by contextualizing this translation within its socio-cultural context. To carry out this analysis, Bourdieu’s concepts – field, habitus, and doxa – are used as research tools to understand the relationship between the decisions a translator makes at the micro-level and the stimuli at the macro-level. This entails examining the genesis of the field of children’s literature in Egypt during the late nineteenth century to identify the prevalent doxic practices that conditioned cultural productions. It also requires focussing on the socio-political factors that influenced the translator’s habitus. The analysis is expected to determine to what extent the decisions taken at the textual level were affected by both the prevalent doxic practices and the translator’s habitus. This research concludes that the habitus may exert powerful effects on the translator’s strategic decisions to a greater extent than the prevalent doxic practices in the field. Examining the influences of the translator’s habitus in the translation has produced some results worthy of further analysis. It may be possible to expand on this study by including different genres in the same field, such as fantasy books for children. The same sociological theory also could be applied to other genres outside the field of children’s literature, such as the translation of political books.