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Sargon Boulus and Tu Fu’s Ghost(s)

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image of Journal of World Literature

Sargon Boulus (1944–2007) is widely acclaimed as one of the pioneers of modern Arabic poetry. The trajectories of his life and work make him an appealing subject through which one may explore the dialogues his work initiated, and the horizons that it opened, between Arabic literature and world poetry. His work and the way it has been largely ignored or (mis)read can even highlight some of the problematics and limitations of the category of “world” literature and its institutional networks and asymmetries. The recent publication of his anthology of selected translations from world literature and collected interviews is an opportunity to study his work as a translator more seriously. This essay takes stock of his contributions and traces his curious affinity with the Chinese poet Tu Fu (712–770). It concludes by reading two of his late poems and links them to his own ethics and politics of translation and writing.

Affiliations: 1: New York University Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin


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