Friday, November 18, 2005

Oblique Refractions

A fascinating article in Al Ahram Weekly about an The Edward W Said Memorial Lecture was delivered on 1 November Said's 70th birthday) visiting professor David Damrosch, a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and most recently author of What is World Literature? Normally I wouldn't have had an excuse to add this article here, but fortunately there is a chapter in What is World Literature? mentioned here - 'Love in the Necropolis,which focuses on Ancient Egyptian love poetry and its various translations: "Although this is his first visit to Egypt Damrosch started learning Hieroglyphics when he was an undergraduate and continued his studies as a graduate student in Comparative Literature. 'I was interested in both the literature and culture of the oldest continuous culture in the world,' he explains, adding that there have been two touchstones he has used as a counterbalance to Europe, the Ancient Near East, specifically Egypt and Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica. In his concluding comments in the book Damrosch reads the French savants' discovery of the Rosetta stone and Champollion's subsequent deciphering of the hieroglyphs as heralding not only the recovery of Ancient Egyptian literature but also the recovery of other long-lost Near Eastern textualities. The excitement surrounding 19th-century discoveries in the field of Egyptology, he elaborates, spurred the decipherment of cuneiform script and was to lead to the recovery of Gilgamesh".
See the above article for the full story which summarizes some of the main points in the lecture and looks at Damrosch's scholarly output. There is als a full text of his lecture on the site at:

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