Thursday, September 06, 2007

'Asian Babes' beats Dostoyevsky to top of list

Brian Whitaker warms my cockles with the news that an Abu Dhabi prince is diverting some of his money away from yachts and Philippino maids and investing it in a scheme called Kalima whereby 'high-quality works of classic and contemporary writing are translated from other languages into Arabic.'

As regular readers of this nonsense will know, the absence of libraries and decent bookshops in Egypt pains me in a way comparable to listening to Celine Dion on repeat while being force-fed broad beans, and I will eulogise to anyone unable to escape me about books as a force for good and for brain-widening change and also as entertainment while on the loo.

Hence the Kalima scheme does, on the face of it, seem very wowzers blazers indeed. Note however the irony of Whitaker's reference to the Da Vinci Code, of which both the book and film were banned in Egypt (though the book is now available I think, or am I imagining things?) How such a scheme would work in Egypt - where God bless them the censors routinely seize books which they judge are bad for us children - remains to be seen. It would doubtless involve official launches by Mr Prince of some harmless translated text which - once His Highness is safely ensconced in his limousine en route to the airport - would immediately be pounced on by the gatekeepers of our moral sensibilities and all copies of said tome used as the foundations for a new gated community in the desert.

Note also some of the odd readers' suggestions for works worthy of translation.


Basil Epicurus said...

"Is not compatible with our value system" is the censorship kiss-of-death for most foreign books that are truly worthy of translation. The objective of books in the Middle East seem to be to confirm prejudices not expand horizons and examine differing (even dissenting points of view).

Maybe I'm cynical (ha..maybe?) but this reeks of another pet PR project by yet another Arab billionaire playing the benevolent scholar-king. As the article says, the proof will be in the pudding and the impact this will have on bringing culture and education to the plebs.

Speaking of educating the plebs, you mispelt 'hordes' in the first sentence of the last post:)

Anonymous said...

"listening to Celine Dion on repeat while being force-fed broad beans"

Sounds like the latest creative coercion mental devices. Being employed down at Club your posts so vivid and vivacious Amnesiac.

Scarr said...

Baz: My sentiments exactly about the Prince's motivations behind the project, but hey, what the hell if it does get a few new books into the Arabic book market. The issue of censorship, and whether Joe Ordinary will actually be able to to afford to buy these books, remains.

Hmm...I don't have a British English dictionary with me, but when I used, it didn't recognise hoardes - and neither did my British spellchecker in Word, hence why I spelt it like that (I originally wrote hoardes)...Can anyone with a British English dictionary please tell us what is the correct British spelling?

0cool: Don't tell the CIA, they'll be brushing off their Dion CDs before you can say orange jumpsuit.

AM said...

Who cares what their intent is? Its almost never out of the kindness of their hearts, but like you said, if it gives Arabs access to an inkling of the joys of reading from other cultures, then why not?

Basil Epicurus said...

Horde: A nomadic people, usually war-like

Hoard: to compulsively collect/ save up for future use

I'm pretty sure about this, being a big fan of Attila the Hun AND all the Asterix books. Unless it's an English spelling thing..

Scarr said...

Apparently the whole world knows that it's hoardes and not hoards except for the British English spellchecker on Word. Bastard computers.

Basil Epicurus said...

It's not hoArdes:) It's HORDES. I'll put money on this one..

Scarr said...

Yes, I meant hordes.

I have corrected the offending word in the previous post and if anyone mentions hordes or hoards or whores again I will vomit.

Forsoothsayer said...

yes...basil is right about THAT WORD.
so i recently read a quote to the effect that: if books can influence someone for the better, surely they can influence them for the worse?

Scarr said...

Yes Forsooth evidence of this is provided by the legions of cape wearing morons, sorry 'wizards', led astray by Harry sod off and die Potter.