Arthur John Arberry(1905-1969): A Critical Evaluation of an Orientalist

Watkin, Richard Owen (2021) Arthur John Arberry(1905-1969): A Critical Evaluation of an Orientalist. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Watkin, R.O. Thesis 2021.pdf - Accepted Version

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Arthur John Arberry (1905–1969): A Critical Evaluation of an Orientalist Arthur J. Arberry is widely recognised as one of the leading British scholars of Oriental Studies in the mid-twentieth century. This thesis aims to re-evaluate Arberry’s contribution to the field by examining his works and translations from a post-colonial perspective. After having provided a background to A. J. Arberry, this PhD thesis focuses on discussing and defining the concept of Orientalism as understood by its critics, especially Edward Said. We analyse the influence of empire and imperialism on Said’s experiences and academic works, concluding that post-colonialism informed Said’s views. The post-colonial critique is the foundation to analyse the opus of Arberry and examine concepts of empire and colonialism in his works and his attitudes to the Middle East. A selection of Arberry’s works reveals that his interpretation of Islamic culture is that of a Western scholar. His wartime work for the Ministry of Information and the BBC showed that he was a strong supporter of British values but also that his contributions were evidence of his inability to adjust his scholarly practices to the need to communicate effectively with audiences abroad. Theories of translation provide additional analytical tools to assess his Orientalist views as revealed by his translations of Arabic and Persian texts, including those of Iqbal. His frequently acclaimed versions of the Qur’an will be scrutinised in detail with the result that their accuracy of interpretation and style of translation are open to question. The thesis finds that Arberry was a text-based Oriental scholar who did not consider contemporary life in the countries from which the texts originated. His outlook was conservative, declining to venture into fields of study outside his discipline, being unsuited to fully engage with challenges emanating from a changing world. The thesis agrees with the critique that his works show essentialism, absence and otherness. Examination of Arberry’s works has demonstrated the nature of scholarly Orientalism of the mid-twentieth century. The phrase ‘post‐colonial perspective’ is used to describe a new methodological revisionism which enables a wholesale critique of western structures of knowledge and power; the term indicates the theoretical and methodological approach used in the analysis and critique. For post‐colonialism in general, see E. Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1978)

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Dr Owen Watkin
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2021 11:03
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2021 11:03

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