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Season of Migration to the North by Tayed Salih was different from what I expected when I originally read the description on the back. I did not expect it to talk about many different controversial topics. One problem that I had when reading the first half of this book was that I found myself getting confused at times because it was very fast paced. I’m not sure if that is just how the book was written or if it has to do with the fact that it has been translated. There were many different themes and central conflicts discussed in the novel just in the first half of it. However, in my opinion the most important themes discussed are the comparison and connections between Eastern and Western cultures, sex, and women. This book shows many times in which people from different cultures start a dialogue of discussion and there is a lot of miscommunication. There are many times in which Mustafa talks about Arabic poetry and other topics but there is not much attempt to try and understand any sides and different ways of thinking. In another sections in the book, there are discussions about Sudan and women in the East in comparison to the West and there are misconceptions that are brought up but never addressed or acknowledged. While reading this, I keep thinking back to myself that neither side ever attempts to communicate with the other seriously and directly to understand each point of view or discuss their differences and opinions. Therefore, this then continues to deepen the gap between both cultures. Other themes in the first half of the book include issues about women and sex. Multiple times women are spoken about as objects and being there only for the pleasure of sex. Again, I wonder if this is what the original book implies or if the translators misconceptions are being portrayed in his translation. In that case, it creates a bad image on Sudan that might not be the whole truth or view and idealizes the west. Many times I felt like the book portrayed that the West is what everyone in the book is trying to be like because they are the correct and this is the best way. It also looked at everything in Sudan and the experiences that were faced through a western perspective which touches on the concept of orientalism.
Doing a closer reading as done in class I would connect it to the concepts of the different translation tools. Based off of what I’ve read so far I would argue that the translator of Season of Migration to the North uses more of the “foreignizing” translation technique but in some parts in the book there is also the “domesticating” translation technique that can be pointed out. I think that the translator used more of the “foreignizing” translation tool due to the fact that it does keep words from Arabic in there rather than using an easier English word to translate it. It was also at times harder to read because of its poetic way of it being written and the way it was originally written in Arabic. This made it harder for the reader to fully understand but was a more authentic portrayal of the original writing and word choice.
Throughout the first half of the SEASON OF MIGRATION TO THE NORTH, I recognized a theme that I found significant in the novel. What I’m going to focus on is the relationship between the two distinctive cultures (Europe and Sudan). One of the biggest things I’ve noticed when reading, the Sundaneses tend to push away from western culture. An example would be when the narrator is accidently spoke in English to one of the characters, Mahjoub, he questioned the narrator if being in Europe has made her lose Arabic and wanted them to be “anglicized” (p.14). Keep in mind that Sudan was colonized by the British at the time and one of the biggest things of colonization was the removal of culture from the locals. The people of Sudan are understandingly angered about being a British colony. That explains why Mahjoub reacts the way he did towards the narrator because he doesn’t want his culture to be gone and turned to Angelized because some locals are speaking English. Another thing I noticed is when Mustafa goes to Cairo for his studies, he met the headmaster of the high school in Cairo named Mr. Robinson and his wife. When his wife hugged Mustafa, that made him sexually attracted towards her and imagines a large mountain in Cairo, “to which my camel had carried me, was an European woman just like Mrs. Robinson,” (p.23). Mustafa viewed Mrs. Robinson as exotic because he has never seen European woman before since he’s from Arabic culture, so this would make him have a specific type of feeling. When Mustafa compares Mrs. Robinson to camels, it means that he’s shunned by the features of European beauty and carrying his feelings as he is trying to process her looks. Later in the book, Mustafa is in trail for the murder of Jean Morris, his wife, and the contribution for the suicide of Ann Hammond, Sheila Greenwood, and Isabella Seymour, his girlfriends. Mustafa defends from Professor Foster-Keen was that he and his girlfriends are a conflict of two cultures saying that “the germ of a deadly disease that assailed them a thousand years,” (p.29). Even though Mustafa did want to be guilty, I still find it interesting that the Professor would use the idea of two worlds clashing. The idea that this murders and suicide wasn’t Mustafa fault, but how culture misunderstanding caused this. When the professors said the woman that they had disease that assailed a thousand years, it seems that he’s talking about the flaws of Western society and how it has affected induvial in Europe which caused the demise of the women not actually Mustafa himself.
I don’t have any question about the fist half of the reading, I really to enjoy it. Based on the readings about translation, SEASONS OF MIGRATION TO THE NORTH , when it comes to transitioning to different characters story, I feel this kind of strategy seems to be Foreignizing because I never seen the type of transition in western books before. I sometimes need to realize it the narrator is talking about her story or that of the character’s.
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