9/24/2012

Marvel's Thor in Arabic - Not a God

This post is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогспот: Марвеловиот Тор на арапски - не е бог
- на македонски на Блогерај: Марвеловиот Тор на арапски - не е бог 
 
Egyptian journalist and blogger Azza Moghazy related an interesting inter-cultural fact regarding the Arabic translation of Marvel Comics about Thor, which was subject to religious censorship:
When translated into Arabic we never learned that he was an old Nordic god. The Arabic translation introduced Thor as a fighter not a god...
By the way here is a discussion in an Arabic forum for comics about Thor. most of the participants agreed that Thor comics mustn't be translated or published in Arabic because it recognizes a pagan god.
The following scan of an Arabic Thor comics is from the that site, Arabcomics.net. According to Azza, the translation is:  "Thor .. the (master) of thunder. The legend becomes true." The comics was translated and published in Lebanon and distributed all over the Arab world (22 countries with Arabic as a native language).

Arabic version of Marvel's Thor
Monotheism--denial of existence of all other gods but one--is one of the fundamental common tenant of Judaism, Christianity (Old Testament, the First Commandment, Exodus 12: 1-17 & Deuteronomy 5: 6-21) and Islam (Qur'an chapter 47:19, 28:70). People living in secular societies might find it hard to imagine how such doctrines might be applied literally to the extent of controlling or modifying access to artworks or other products. There's no evidence that uncensored comics using stories about ancient gods as templates for superheroes lead to revival of the polytheistic religions of old, either Norse or Mediterranean (as in DC's Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, etc.).

My own experience as a kid who grew up under what we called socialism and what westerners call communism or totalitarianism in 1980s Yugoslavia is also censorship-free, at least concerning superhero comics. Even though the system was officially promoting atheism, there was no widespread persecution of religious people - in fact, "national" religious institutions such as the Macedonian Orthodox Church and Islamic Community were part of the system. Neither did this official atheism (denial of all gods) require censorship or altering of stories about religious figures, pagan or monotheistic. Especially in comics. World heritage and local ancient mythologies and the pagan past were also freely re-used by domestic authors, both state-supported and alternative. (Note: Experience of Yugoslav Communism was much different in degree of repression and censorship from the countries of the Warsaw Pact.)

--- Elsewhere in Sci-fi ---

Norse, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon mythology is often used by American science fiction writers, due to the obvious links of that culture to England. Two of the most interesting works based on exploring the links between the Norse ("Viking") and Arab/Middle East cultures and mythologies also use the same word in the title:
  • Eaters of the Dead by Michael Chrichton, the basis for the film The 13th Warrior, depicting contact and cooperation between Vikings and a man coming from the Caliphate of Baghdad. The film has its moments, but the book is much richer in (pseudo-historic and historic) details which make it somewhat juicier.
  • The Life Eaters - graphic novel written by David Brin with art by Scott Hampton, based on and expanding the storyline of Brin's amazing novella Thor Meets Captain America (Hugo winner).

1 comment:

pim said...

I would certainly prefer to read more foreign fiction which were translated from Arabic translation to english, or in any languages.Because in that way I could have an idea what do people think,feel or their culture is.When we read books from a foreign country it seems like travelling in that country through the stories plot.We could recognize how they have been living afar from our own culture.