AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number4. October   2020                                Pp. 97-113

The Genesis of the Translation of Children’s Classics: A Bourdieusian Account of ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ṣabrī’s Translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1909)

The School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies, University of Leeds, UK

Department of English, King Abdulaziz University, College of Science and Arts
Rabigh,  Saudi Arabia


Recently, Bourdieu’s sociological theory has been applied in translation studies. Based on Bourdieu’s assumption that individuals’ practices result from the interwoven relation between their habitus and the field in which they grow up and work, ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ṣabrī’s translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1909) was chosen as a testing ground, through which this assumption will be proven or rejected. This paper aims to contribute to the growing area of sociological research by contextualizing this translation within its socio-cultural context. To carry out this analysis, Bourdieu’s concepts – field, habitus, and doxa – are used as research tools to understand the relationship between the decisions a translator makes at the micro-level and the stimuli at the macro-level. This entails examining the genesis of the field of children’s literature in Egypt during the late nineteenth century to identify the prevalent doxic practices that conditioned cultural productions. It also requires focussing on the socio-political factors that influenced the translator’s habitus. The analysis is expected to determine to what extent the decisions taken at the textual level were affected by both the prevalent doxic practices and the translator’s habitus. This research concludes that the habitus may exert powerful effects on the translator’s strategic decisions to a greater extent than the prevalent doxic practices in the field. Examining the influences of the translator’s habitus in the translation has produced some results worthy of further analysis. It may be possible to expand on this study by including different genres in the same field, such as fantasy books for children. The same sociological theory also could be applied to other genres outside the field of children’s literature, such as the translation of political books.

Cite as:

Almehmadi, K. M.  (2020). The Genesis of the Translation of Children’s Classics: A Bourdieusian Account of ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ṣabrī’s Translation of Gulliver’s Travels (1909). Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (4)


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Khulud M. Almehmadi is a lecturer in the Department of English, King Abdulaziz University,
College of Science and Arts/ (Saudi Arabia), Rabigh. She taught English and translation courses
to undergraduate students for two years. She obtained her Master degree in English/Arabic
translation in 2015 from University of Leeds. Currently, she is a PhD student in University of
Leeds. Her PhD thesis focuses on the translation of children’s literature in the Arab world from
an agency-based perspective. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0738-2964