From a Slave to a Translator: Conflicts and Mediation in Fatma-Zaïda’s Translation of the Quran

  • Rim Hassen
Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


Fatma-Zaïda was a Muslim slave maid or djaria. Despite the fact that she is probably the first woman to translate the Quran into French, her work remains largely unknown. The aim of this paper is to discuss Zaïda’s role as a creative translator by closely examining her work (L’Alkoran: Le Livre Par Excellence, Imprimerie de la Société Typographique Franco-Portugaise, Lisbonne, 1861). I first examine the paratexts, where the translator gives an interesting insight into the conflicting perceptions of femininity between Muslim and European women during the nineteenth-century. Secondly, I discuss her translation strategies and argue that in order to mediate between the two cultures and to promote women’s rights, Zaïda engaged in different forms of intervention and manipulation of the source text. Finally, I investigate some of the key politics, powers and constraints that transformed Zaïda from a djaria, to a translator of the Quran.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rim Hassen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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