Organized Panel Session
In 1935, three years before his death in 1938, the luminary Pakistani poet and political reformer Muhammad “Allama” Iqbal published one of his most celebrated works: Bal-i-Jibril. In the Nazm “Saqi Namah” which was included in the volume, Iqbal wrote: The age of capitalism has passed/The juggler, having shown his tricks, has gone/The Chinese are waking from their heavy sleep/Fresh springs are bubbling forth from Himalayan heights. Iqbal’s inclusion of China in his poem seems timely: the nineteen thirties were the heyday for Sino-Indian cultural exchanges with the traffic of writers and texts between these two countries. Iqbal’s poetry was introduced in China only two decades later, in 1958, by the poet Chen Jinrong, editor of the most important journal of foreign literature in China, World Literature (Shi jie wen xue). The poems were enthusiastically received and were then republished in subsequent editions through the 1990’s. And yet, the translation of Iqbal in particular and modern Urdu literature into Chinese, in general, had received very little scholarly attention thus far. Attempting to spark a conversation, the paper raises the following questions: How should we situate the translation of Iqbal into Chinese within the larger historical moment of the late 1950’s in which visions of a new world order mushroomed in such Afro-Asian writer’s conferences as Bandung (1955) and Tashkent (1958)? Can the translation of Iqbal into Chinese throw some new light on Sino-Indian cultural relations of the late 1950’s?
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