Translational Façade, Authorial Text: Translational Artifice in James Morier’s The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professor of Translation Studies, English Department, Faculty of Literatures and Foreign Languages, Arak University, Arak, Iran


The present study aims at providing an account of the translational features of a pseudotranslational work. The case for the study is The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Justinian Morier, a book presented as the translation of a manuscript presumably written by a Persian narrator, Hajji Baba. Morier’s book has ever since won a wide readership among the English as a translated text although many critics have attested to its authorial status. Following library research, this study gauged the pseudotranslationality of the book using its paratextual elements and then analyzed the text regarding its textual-linguistic makeup to highlight the elements which helped the fictitious translator to disguise the book as a translation in the English culture. The inquiry shows how Morier benefited some of the common paratextual and textual ploys in pseudotranslating, noticeable in such processes in other literary contexts as well, to manipulate his own authored book and cover it with a veil of translation. The study can help gain a broader picture of techniques used in pseudotranslating and accordingly prevalent norms of translation.


1. Introduction

Pseudotranslation is currently a widely discussed subject in translation studies and comparative literature. The term has been around for quite a few years, yet only after Gideon Toury (1995) urged the scholars to incorporate descriptive studies into translation studies did such a product receive attention in academic circles as Toury considered such manipulations, i.e., pseudotranslations, an important translation norm-indicator in various languages, particularly when they are well-accepted. 

The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (hereafter The Adventures), one such product, is the most well-liked oriental novel available in English, having served as one the most effective elements depicting Iranian character in the West (Amanat2003). A key element to this blockbuster was the translational subterfuge applied by the author to speak his own words from the mouth of a native Persian, thus, creating an illusion of an unspoiled, virgin oriental account of Persia. The various aspects of the novel have been widely studied, mostly from the viewpoint of cultural and imperial purposes the text served, yet the linguistic means the author devised to camouflage the novel as translation has remained a vexed issue. Although there have been cursory glances at the textual and literary scheme of the book (e.g., Amanat2003), a textual linguistic analysis from within the purview of pseudotranslation traditions is conspicuously absent from the discussions on the work. Therefore, the present study is to examine how the book could effectively lay an authorial text behind a glittering translational façade. To this end, it is to explore the textual and paratextual devices that author designed to achieve this goal.

2. Theoretical Framework

The term ‘pseudotranslation’ was initially used to mean ‘free translation’ by Alexis Walladmor in 1823 (Rambelli2009). Since then, the term has been applied to a diverse range of concepts dealing with translation. Torrens (1994), for instance, applies the term to a literal translation carried out by automation systems and devoid of creativity, Radó (1979) to a translation merged with transposition, and Stocès to “very free interpretations, variations or adaptations with a hearty dose of pure invention that bear no relationship to the […] originals” (2004, as cited in Pinto2013, p. 63). However, the term ‘pseudotranslation’ has been chiefly used in the literature to underscore a particular relationship between a prototext and a metatext, as first stated by Popovič (1976) under the term ‘fictitious translation’. He maintains that a writer may opt for publishing his/her original material under translational façade so as to attract a wider readership by conforming to readers’ expectations. 

Other scholars have underlined the imitativeness of the relationship (e.g., Rambelli2009) or the imaginativeness of the source text (e.g., Kupsch-Losereit2014). Yet, the textbook definition of the term comes from Toury, who has done his utmost to accommodate the study of such texts within the Descriptive Translation Studies’ agenda. He takes pseudotranslations to be “texts which have been presented as translations with no corresponding source texts in other languages ever having existed—hence no factual ‘transfer operations’ and translation relationships” (1995, p. 40). Toury’s account ensues from his target-oriented approach and his broad concept of translation, which allows for the study of such wide a range of texts as pastiche, adaptation, pseudotranslation, and the like under the umbrella term ‘translation’. This fairly broad notion entails three interconnected postulates, namely Source-Text, Transfer, and Relationship. He stresses that these postulates are ‘posited’, not fact-based. And it is this very posited nature of these postulates that enables text-producers to present original compositions under the charade of translation since neither the source text, nor the transfer, nor the translational relationship is actually unveiled for the consumer, not even for authentic translations (2005).

According to Toury, what makes pseudotranslations be seen on a par with genuine translations is the activation of the Source-text postulate, most essentially accomplished through a disguise mechanism. As persons-in-the-culture, authors are sentient of the status of translation and activity of translators in their culture and also the functions that translations fulfill. This awareness generally manifests itself in behavioral patterns, including the textual-linguistic makeup of the text, and once this awareness is manipulated, authorial texts can be shammed as translational (2005). However, it is not that all texts presented as translation are promptly legitimized as such; hence, a pseudotranslator will not only have to create a proper niche for his/her text in the host culture but also “invest some effort in the formation and formulation of the text itself, in a way which would make it sufficiently persuasive to be accepted as a translation in the host culture” (2012, p. 53). This is primarily attained by endowing the text with the features characteristic of genuine translations—even sometimes to the point of exaggeration (2012). It follows that pseudotranslations can give clues on the linguistic material and make-up and, thus, the linguistic norms of translated texts in a given cultural system at a particular time (Hermans1999/2014Lambert1988/2006Toury1995).

Based on Toury’s tenets on pseudotranslations and translation norms (199520052012) and Rizzi’s (2008) touchstone for discriminating genuine and pseudo- translations, the present study aims at providing an account of paratextual elements and textual makeup helping sham an authorial text as a translated one. The case in point is James Morier’s The Adventures. Morier’s masterful manipulation of his authored book resulted in its popular acceptance as a translation. Although many studies have explored the various aspect of Morier’s work— e.g., its colonial function in the West and its post-colonial function by its translation into Persian—its translational aspect, including its textual manipulation and translational semblance, is conspicuously absent from the discussions on the book. 

 As mentioned above, our assumption here is that there are certain strategies applied by the pseudotranslator to pass his original composition as a translation. Accordingly, having established the feigned nature of the book, the study attempts to cast light on the paratextual materials, textual elements, and translational strategies which have been applied by the pseudotranslator as his disguise mechanism. 

3. Review of Literature

Pseudotranslations have been explored from various aspects in many cultures and literature contexts. For the sake of space, we will briefly review some of the most relevant studies addressing textual and paratextual elements in such texts.

Toral (2022) investigated the peritext of the Kitāb al-Filāḥa al-Nabaṭiyya by ibn Waḥšiyya, a book claimed in its preface to be translated from a Babylonian source belonging to 20,000 years before the time it was translated into Arabic (early 10th century AD). The book, posits Toral, had initially been regarded a precious genuine translation in European research. She envisages the very long preface as a valuable testimony concerning translation of scientific texts in Abbāsid period, yet a fabricated peritext for hiding pseudotranslating and for preparing the ground for the hybridity of the text. She maintains the preface displays a textual plan attempting to both assure the audience of the authenticity of the translation by borrowing common translation notions and promote the status of the pseudotranslator as a skillful translator by satisfying the expectations of the readers. It includes, inter alia, information on the source text language, the translation date, and the translator. Ibn Waḥšiyya also notes his objective of translating the book, i.e., importing science to his own nation. Interestingly, he stresses the secrecy in which the original was kept by the remnants of Kasdānians and their resistance for promulgation of knowledge they had acquired and maintains that were he not among the very few who could explain the content of the book to the owner, which made the owner indebted to him, he could have not accessed the book. This was also made possible also with ibn Waḥšiyya pouring showers of dirhams and dinars on the owner. The preface is also replete with a recurrent theme of usefulness of translation, along with a long discussion of the translation difficulties, particularly with religious references from a heretical context. 

In his study of historical books of the late 14th- to early 18th-century Spain, Méndez-Oliver (2017notes a pseudotranslation by the official translator to the Spanish court, Miguel de Luna, who attempted to reconcile the Spanish rulers and Arabs of the time by his presentation of a book supposedly translated from an Arabic manuscript. In an attempt to validate the translationality of the book, Luna stresses the crucial role served by the translator in rendering the manuscript and his integral role in resurrecting history in the paratext. Noting the principles discussed by St Jerome, the great Bible translator of all times, he compares the difficulties he encountered throughout his translation with those by St Jerome. In another effort, he emphasizes that were he not enjoined to translate the manuscript by the enlightened who knew the truth underlying the Arabic original, he would not have undertaken such demanding a labor. In one of his prefaces to the book, Luna also deliberates about his overall strategy in rendering the book besides the linguistic and cultural impediments he faced throughout the translation. He further gave grounds for his marginalia for the onerous parts of the text—which also exhibits his command over Arabic and his translational skills. In another preface, quoting Abentarique, the assumed author of the claimed manuscript, Luna once again underlines the authenticity of the text by pointing out that Abentarique himself had either witnessed the events narrated or else verified the authenticity of the documents and reports used. In conclusion, he—ironically—reprimands historians who failed to provide access to reliable sources as his!

Raleigh (2017) examined the works by Thomas-Simon Gueullette, an author who began his career by pseudotranslating and removed the translation masquerade piecemeal. In his pseudotranslations, Gueullette uses paratextual elements commonly prevalent in French translations of the age, including footnotes and illustrations typifying the culture of the original texts—Persian and Arabic—and paratextual elements copious in French pseudotranslations, like presenting a report on how the original manuscript was accessed or the thwarted desire to remain faithful to the original in the discussion on the translation method employed. In the Quart-d’ heure, Gueullette uses hefty footnotes, to underscore the translationality of the text. Interestingly, his footnote on the word ‘Dervish’ in the book looks almost identical to Pétis’s footnote on the same word in his pseudotranslation Jour, with both pseudotranslators using a literal translation of the entry in the dictionary Le Grand dictionnaire historique ou Le mélange curieux de l’histoire sacrée et profane. This reveals how Gueullette was influenced by the preceding pseudotranslators like Pétis in fabricating the book. Gueullette gradually adds signs unearthing his authorship and puts the translator’s cloak aside in his books, for instance, by adding the word ‘auteur’ to his works. 

Pseudotranslation is found by Kupsch-Losereit (2014) to be a common phenomenon in 18th-century French literature. Common among the pseudotranslations are spurious paratexts and information, such as ‘translated by’ or ‘translated from’, deceptive prefaces and introductions, and reference to unpublished manuscripts as the STs, and the prominent features are multi-perspective style and self-reflection (e.g., statements about the gaps in the ST, awareness of the readers’ expectations and defying them, etc.). Other features shared by a number of these books are the multilinguality of dialogues and the blurring of the distinction between author, first-person translator, and figure through metafictional remarks and embedded, innerfictional narratives. The idea of ‘faithful’ translation is underpinned by such elements as unusual linguistic style, weird-sounding toponymy, and disconcerting style.

Gürçağlar (2010) shows that in addition to presentational materials such as foreign-looking cover designs and foreign author names, some Turkish pseudotranslations of the late 20th century applied several strategies to disguise the texts as translation, including scattering signs of ‘translationese’ and ‘overdoing-in-imitation of translation’, both syntactic and lexical. For example, Kamal Taher’s stories featured foreign characters, made many references to street names and locations in New York, and used many words with English origins; likewise, Aziz Nesin’s chose Paris for the setting, with Marcel and Paul as the main characters along with many words with French origins. Gürçağlar finds similar elements of translationese in poetic pseudotranslations such as Haydar Ergülen’s poems, which incorporated many words with foreign signifiers and exotic names and thematized foreign elements. In her later study (2014), Gürçağlar discusses another pseudotranslation, Vinden vänder vid Bosporen, En Enkel Turks Dagbok, a novel by Hanna Hindbeck published in Swedish, French, and German. The German and Swedish prefaces introduce Hindbeck herself as the translator and contain some references to the original Turkish text. The assumed translator admits to having shrunk such very frequent Turkish phrases as inşallah and maşallah, and to having preserved the ST style. She also explains the conventions she followed in transcribing the Ottoman words. The book enjoys translator’s notes, endnotes (Swedish edition), footnotes to span the cultural gaps, and a glossary (German edition), all signaling the translational aspect of the book.

A study by Du Pont (2005examined the two-volume book I, Claudius’ by Robert Graves. The book has many clues as to its translational status including the author’s acknowledgment as well as notes on the author’s decisions made throughout writing the original version; later editions of the book even have an autograph of Tiberius Claudius in Greek handwriting on the first page! The title of the book, “I, Claudius / From the autobiography of / Tiberius Claudius / Emperor of the Romans / born 10 B.C. / murdered and deified / A.D. 54.”, and the note in the second volume, which reads “Claudius is writing in Greek, the scholarly language of his day” (Graves, 1986, as cited in Du Pont2005, p. 334) also imply the book is a translation. To underscore the Greek origin of the text, Grave uses the name Hermann (which is commonly used in Greek sources) instead of Arminius. The point is that Arminius had been regularly used in Latin works, hitherto having served as the source for all translations of Roman Emperors’ autobiographies into English. Besides, Graves uses many footnotes as well as explanations regarding his translation decisions.

O'Sullivan (2005) discussed ‘English crime fiction pseudotranslations’, which he takes to be fictional works originally written in English but whose settings and impressions are Italian. This foreignness is fortified by paratextual elements such as Italian-looking images as well as foreign themes and techniques such as magical realism. Working in the same vein, Maher (2013) shows that these books carry the name of an English author on their cover and can be read with the ease of texts originally written in English; however, to convey translational impression they are replete with elements of exoticism such as Italian culture-specific items including customs, culinary names, newspaper names, formulaic expressions, terms of address, titles, and swear words besides glossaries. Although some of these features have available translations in English, they are retained to give local color and a sense of alienation. The translational aspect of the works is further buttressed by words that seem to have been calqued from Italian, giving the text a creolizing or hybrid style. 

The present study is to investigate translational characteristics of a widely-acknowledged pseudotranslation both textually and paratextually to see how the author could cover an authored text behind a translation veil.

4. Method

The study is based on library research. The book examined is Morier’s (1824/2014) The Adventures. The criteria for establishing whether the book is a pseudotranslation were borrowed from Rizzi (2008), which inspects the book’s peritextual (cover, title page, preface, dedication, illustrations, postface, etc.) and epitextual materials (coming from reviews, correspondences, interviews, critical literary analyses, etc.). These elements show how the book was presented by the publisher and/or translator besides how it was received by the readers, critics, and the like at various times, thus, decrying its authenticity. Based on Rizzi (2008) a study of paratext—more specifically epitexts (i.e., elements outside the text) and peritexts (elements in a work other than the main text)—can resolve the impasse: if the epitextual and peritextual materials are in line, the text is a translation; however, if the peritext attests to translation, yet the epitext indicates otherwise, then: 

(a) If the epitexts are written long after the alleged PT [pseudotranslation], the text might still have been considered a T [translation] by the cultural system that produced the text, even though the culture behind the epitext does not. (b) If the epitext was produced by the same cultural system that produced the text, the translation is in fact a pseudotranslation. (p. 157)

The study will also adopt concepts and methods used in Descriptive Translation Studies to analyze the peritext, particularly in its textual make-up and linguistic material distribution. It will focus on Toury’s textual-linguistic norms (19952012), which essentially concern the selection of linguistic materials for the formulation of the text—and also reflect the translator’s perception of translation norms in the host culture. Hence, the analysis will seek the elements which signal the translationality of the text.

5. Results

5.1.The Adventures as an Authorial Text: Epitextual Analysis

Although The Adventures was presented as a translation from Persian by Morier, many scholars have contended it is a genuine composition in English (cf. e.g., Pouralifard & Omar2014). For instance, in the introduction to the Persian translation of the book (1348/1969), Jamalzadeh confidently celebrates Morier as the author of the book, elevating the English original as an ‘invaluable work in the literary world’ (1348/1969). Other critics such as Nategh (1353/1974), Javadi (1345/1966), and Boobani (1387/2009) have also acknowledged the compositional nature of The AdventuresBrackett and Gaydosik (2006) maintain that Morier presented a picaresque in which he “used his experience to bring a REALISM to his work that made it the seminal English-language fiction about Persia” (p. 304). Henry McKenzie Johnston’s book title ‘Ottoman and Persian Odysseys: James Morier, Creator of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, and His Brothers’ (1998) is also self-evident. Moreover, many recent editions of the book assign Morier as the author of the book. Some examples include “Project Gutenberg's The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, by James Morier”, which also bears “Author: James Morier” on its title page (1895/2007) and the edition published by Cosimo Inc. (2005) and also by The University of Adelaide (2005/2014), with the latter carrying the name James Morier without a mention of a translator.

Based on Rizzi’s account (2008), The Adventures is a pseudotranslation since the epitextual materials both within and outside the culture in which the book was produced mark it as an authorial text. 

5.2.The Adventures Presented as a Translation 

5.2.1. Peritextual Analysis

The materials on the cover and the title page of The Adventures did not offer much clue as to whether it was to be received as a translation or a genuine English text since the book did not carry any name as the author’s or translator’s when it was first published in 1824; it was a hardcover book with no word printed on the cover. The only peritextual elements signaling the status of the book were the ‘introductory epistle’ and the short ‘postface’, which will be examined below.

In its front material, the book had a fifty-four-page ‘introductory epistle’ (Morier1824, pp. xxi–lxxv) in form of a letter addressed to Rev. Dr. Fundgruben, the chaplain to the Swedish embassy at the Ottoman Porte. The narrator of the epistle, Morier, recounts the story of a night when he discussed with Dr. Fundgruben the need of Westerners for a thorough account of the Orient written not by a Westerner but by an aboriginal in his native language yet conforming to the European taste to impart the “desired knowledge” required by Europeans. This idea is stated over and again throughout the epistle. The narrator also admits his earlier but restrained aspiration to collect and publish his own observations as a Western traveler to the East in his return to Britain, which otherwise would “create a sensation equal at least to the discovery of a new planet” (p. viii). 

Incidentally though, as Morier recounts, something befell him after he crossed the borders of Turkey and Persia: upon entering a post-house, he is asked to treat a desperately sick Persian traveler, Mirza Hajji Baba, a resident agent at the Porte on the part of the Persian Shah at Constantinople. And to show his gratitude for Morier’s lifesaving treatment, Hajji Baba hands Morier a manuscript:

You have saved my life; you are my old friend and my deliverer. What can I do to show my gratitude? Of worldly goods I have but few: it is long since I have received any salary from my government, and the little money I have here will barely suffice, to take me to my own country. Besides, I know the English,—they are above such considerations; it would be in vain to offer them a pecuniary reward. But I have that by me which, perhaps, may have some value in your eyes; I can assure you that it has in mine. Ever since I have known your nation, I have remarked their inquisitiveness, and eagerness after knowledge. Whenever I have travelled with them, I observed they record their observations in books; and when they return home, thus make their fellow-countrymen acquainted with the most distant regions of the globe. Will you believe me, that I, Persian as I am, have followed their example; and that during the period of my residence at Constantinople, I have passed my time in writing a detailed history of my life, which, although that of a very obscure and ordinary individual, is still so full of vicissitude and adventure, that I think it would not fail to create an interest if published in Europe? I offer it to you; and in so doing, I assure you that I wish to show you the confidence I place in your generosity, for I never would have offered it to any one else. Will you accept it? (Morier1824, p. xi)

Another peritextual element, this time explicitly introducing the text as a translation, is the very last note in the postface, a short paragraph in which Morier presents himself as the humble “translator” of the book:

And here, gentle Reader! the humble translator of the Adventures of Hajji Baba presumes to address you, and profiting by the hint afforded him by the Persian story-tellers, stops his narrative, makes his bow, and says, 'Give me encouragement, and I will tell you more […]. (Morier1824, p. 408)

Morier presents a fifty-page story to make the reader believe the text is not his own writing despite his earlier overwhelming longing to publish to the world the outcome of his discoveries in Persia. The recurrent discussion of the need for an account of the Orient written by an Oriental and the mention of the manuscript, received from Hajji Baba, are first and foremost meant to reassure the text was not written by Morier himself, and the postface is intended to emphatically display his loyalty in narrating the events and genuinely ‘translating’ the text. The peritexts mainly serve the purpose of accentuating the translationality of the book both overtly and covertly.

5.2.2. Textual Analysis

Peritextual gambit is not the only artifice that Morier benefited to cover his book with a translational façade; he also resorted to lexicogrammatical features, i.e., textual-linguistic elements, to give the text itself a translational complexion, mainly by using borrowing, explanations, footnotes, literal translation of idiomatic expressions, direct transfer, and orthographical signposts. Examples of each technique will be presented below with the point in bold; all other emphases are from the original.

Dispensable borrowing: Using superfluous loan words, i.e., those not culturally loaded and with common equivalents in English, is the most extensively used disguise strategy by Morier. A vast majority of such words are also italicized in the book to accentuate their ‘foreignness’ and give the text local color even when there are straightforward and widely used equivalents available in English, e.g., “khelwet” [private room] (Morrier1824/2014, p. 145), “badenján” [eggplant] (p. 179), “hazir” [present] (p. 184), “roghun” [grease] (p. 194), “shalwars” [trousers] (p. 195), and “rishweh” [bribe] (p. 350). Such exoticism created by borrowed words is attained in different ways:

Borrowing without gloss: “One said, “This comes of marrying the khanum; she will give him a houseful of harem zadehs.”” (p. 156)

Borrowing along with gloss: “'Tis true, they are Persians, and are endowed with more wit than all the world beside; but in affairs of the dowlet (the state), they are nothing, and rather impede than forward the business upon which I have been sent.” (P. 380)

Borrowing accompanied by literal translation: “India also had her sovereigns, Arabia her caliphs, Turkey her Khon Khors (lit. blood drinkers), Tartary her khans, and China her emperors […]” (p. 138)

Borrowing together with a clarification: “Upon inquiry I found that the deceased had been a nasakchi, i.e. one of the officers attached to the chief executioner, who has one hundred and fifty such under his command, and whose duties consist in preceding the Shah in his marches, dispersing crowds, maintaining order, taking charge of state prisoners, and, in short, acting as police officers throughout the country.” (p. 151)

Borrowing along with footnotes: “The supposed old woman then cast off her veil, and I beheld the Mohtesib in person”. [Footnote: The mohteshib is an officer who perambulates the city, and examines weights and measures, and qualities of provisions.] (p. 67)

In-text explanations: There are many explanations provided within the main text, which generally concern cultural and religious aspects of Iranian life. Among these elucidations are also various kinds of explicitation, the most prevalent universal of translated texts.

In-text explanation: “The commemoration of the death of Hossein, which is so religiously kept throughout Persia, was now close at hand […]” (p. 51)

Parenthetical cultural explanation: “Within the room were several persons who came to pay their court to the doctor (for every man who is an officer of the court has his levee) […]” (p. 68)

Pragmatic) explicitation: “In the reign of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid, of happy memory, lived in the city of Bagdad a celebrated barber, of the name of Ali Sakal.” (p. 72)

Footnotes: Footnotes prove prevalent in the text, entailing a very wide range of explanations and additional information on religion, culture, units of measurement, lexical ambiguity, Persian expressions, beliefs and customs, literary and historical figures, etc.

Literal translation of idiomatic expressions: Also noted by Amanat (2003), one of the prominent features highly indicative of the translationality of the text is using literal translation, particularly in rendering idiomatic expressions, leading to translationese, i.e., a text reading unnatural concerning the TL linguistic and textual norms.

Literal translation of idioms: ““Whose dog are you,” exclaimed I, in return, “to talk to me after this manner?”” (p. 64)

Direct transfer and translation: There are many examples of translation offered besides the direct transfer of sentences and expressions in form of transliteration. The translational masquerade of the text is virtually doubled as some parts are adjoined by sentences transferred from the assumed original language. These are generally italicized as well and, in some cases, written in a different orthography than what is common in English to compound the exotic look and effect.

Transliteration and parenthetical (literal) translation: “And then he finished […], saying, 'Gahi pûsht ber zeen, gahi zeen ber pûsht (sometimes a saddle bears the weight of his back, and sometimes his back the weight of a saddle).'” (p. 228)

Transliteration along with translation: “[…] I exclaimed, 'Arzi darum, I have a petition to make.'” (p. 48)

Transliteration together with literal translation as well as explanation: “I also bought a second-hand beniche, or cloak, usually worn by the Turks, which, going over my Persian garments, gave me the general appearance of an Osmanli […]” (p. 343)

Orthographical signposts: Orthography is used as an element of exoticism, giving non-English color to the text and serving as yet another alienating element even for the words which have already established written forms in English, such as Cûrdish (Kurdish), Imâm (Imam), and Irâk (Iraq), to name just a few examples.

6. Discussion

An analysis of the epitextual elements based on Rizzi’s model (2008) attests to the authorial nature of The Adventures although Morier has used explicit and implicit peritextual clues to mark the text as translational. The very long ‘introductory epistle’ and intertextual reference to a letter to Dr. Fundgruben, which continually emphasizes the need for an account of the Orient genuinely written by an indigenous writer; Morier’s self-restraint in publishing his own observations as a Western traveler; the way the manuscript was accessed; and the like are all attempts to authenticate the assumed original manuscript and translationality of the work. In addition to these rather implicit indicators, the postface unequivocally presents the book as a translation and Morier as the translator at the very final point of reading the text, by Morier referring to himself as the “humble translator” of the text. Morier’s text incorporates many of the conspicuous peritextual signs of pseudotranslations reported in other literature: it uses intertextual references—like the letter to Dr. Fundgruben—to substantiate the ST (e.g., Drury2015Kupsch-Losereit2014Rambelli2006Toral2022); it is based on an ‘unpublished original manuscript’ (e.g., Drury2015Du Pont2005Kupsch-Losereit2014Méndez-Oliver2017Raleigh2017Santoyo2006Thomas2014), and it uses peritextual materials to enhance its translational status (e.g., Gürçağlar20082010Kupsch-Losereit2014Méndez-Oliver2017Merino & Rabadán2002O'Sullivan2005Pursglove2011; Raliegh, 2017; Rambelli2006Toral2022). 

In addition to the presentational materials surrounding the text, the author has used diverse devices and techniques to present the text as a translation, which are evident in other pseudotranslations as well. The extensive use of foreign (here Persian) words and the abundant use of footnotes are also noted by Logie (2017), Gürçağlar (20082014), Maher (2013), Mohammadi Dehcheshmeh (2013), Rambelli (2009), and Merino and Rabadán (2002), who have reported these techniques as a part of the textual-linguistic wile in pseudotranslating. These borrowings can also be viewed in terms of Chesterman’s ‘S-universals’ (2011) and Toury’s ‘law of interference’ (19952012), where the source text make-up is partly transferred to the target text, signaling interference, highlighting a switching between the source and target texts, and in consequence foregrounding the translational aspect of the text. Some scholars (e.g., Volansky et al.2015) have found interference as the most conspicuous feature of translationality in identifying corpora as translational or authorial in their study. 

Similar to what was reported by Gürçağlar (2010), The Adventures also exhibits translationese, primarily by the application of loan words and literal translation of idioms. A highly noticeable case here is the abundance of loan and transliterated words with established English equivalents and known transliterations. Shuttleworth and Cowey (2014, p. 187) consider translationese as a translation with an “obvious reliance on features of SL”, making the resulting text sound “unnatural, impenetrable or even comical”. These patterns point up the translationality of the text so strongly that Ilisei et al., (2010) note them as the ‘fingerprint’ of the source text in the target text. In addition, the overdoing in the application of these textual elements in Morier’s book confirms Toury’s position that “fictitious translations often represent their fictitious sources in a rather exaggerated manner” (2005, p. 7). 

The rich stock of (Persian) culture-specific items, customs, culinary names, formulaic expressions, terms of address, titles, swear words, etc. in the book—meant to add local color and create an aura of foreignness—is in line with the cases of pseudotranslation studied by Maher (2013). This exoticizing effect is multiplied by using non-English orthography in recording foreign words and expressions.

Extensive use of footnotes is also noted as an evident sign of the translator’s visibility by Du Pont (2005), Gürçağlar (200820142017), Merino and Rabadán (2002), Mohammadi Dehcheshmeh (2013), Raliegh (2017), Maher (2013), Okhovvat (1385/2006), Rambelli (2006), and Logie (2017) in their analyses of pseudotranslations in other literary contexts. In addition, the presentation of in-text explanations, e.g., in form of explicitation, to clarify meaning or provide the reader with more information is yet another translational feature of the text, as comparative research has indicated that some textual features, including explicitation, normalization, simplification, and leveling out are much more prevalent in translated than non-translated works (see Laviosa2009).

Another interesting artifice utilized by Morier to create an impression of translation is the direct transference of Persian idiomatic expressions in form of transliteration immediately followed by their English translations or the presence of adjoining loan words and their English equivalents, thus, providing the reader with a spontaneous and ostensive experience of reading a translation through encountering the ST and TT side by side and all at once. The reader’s experience of dealing with a hybrid text is dramatically intensified as the ST-TT pairs are also accompanied by the awkward, creolized language resulting from the ‘literal’ rendition of idioms, which are in some cases accompanied by footnotes and/or in-text explanations as well. This situates the readers right in the center of the linguistic encounter of the two languages, where they find themselves witnessing the transfer operation, noted by Toury (2005) as the main postulate activated in the production of a pseudotranslation. Such a technique was also adopted in Antoine Fabre’s pseudotranslation, where he composed new poetry and published his Occitan poems along with their translations in form of prose in facing pages (see Thomas2014).

On balance, the analysis shows that besides the peritextual elements, Morier’s product has benefited from several diverse textual-linguistic and translational features—which were also applied by other pseudotranslations in other literature and cultures—and thereby has thrived in finding its proper niche in the host culture as a translated work.

7. Conclusion

Morier has used various techniques to sham his own composition as a translation. The references to his access to the manuscript in the ‘introductory epistle’ and introducing himself as the translator of the book in the postface as well as the adoption of various techniques, such as using load words, calque, in-text explanation and footnote, direct transfer—which are all highly suggestive of translated literature—and literal translation of phrases and idioms along with their originals both at the same time to the reader have helped Morier in his elaborate hoax, making his book having been received as an influential and remarkable translation in the host culture.

The findings of this study could cast light on prevalent norms of pseudotranslations and by corollary translation and provide a broader clue on the act of pseudotranslating and its trigger mechanisms. Further studies may address other sham translations in the British culture to examine paratextual and textual procedures used in its epoch to check against Morier’s to find the prevalent norms of such products in the host culture.

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Volume 8, Issue 1
Pages 67-86
  • Receive Date: 11 January 2023
  • Revise Date: 10 February 2023
  • Accept Date: 06 March 2023