"An interpreter has to be optimistic, not to get scared of his audience."

The premise of this book is to find likenesses between a vast and seemingly unique set of great literature. As a veteran interpreter/translator, Dr. Abdel-AI is also a university lecturer. After spending his early childhood in a village in Upper Egypt, the author went on to become a senior interpreter at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. With his impressive career, the author is uniquely qualified to point out the many particular talents that those in his field require. For instance, interpreter/translators bear the responsibility of not only delivering a message but delivering its meaning, as well. They are also responsible for guaranteeing that any diverse viewpoints are easily comprehended by the audience and that any hesitation, indecisiveness, or personal opinion on their part is avoided. Likewise, readers of literature must be wary of applying their own life experiences and judgments to the text they are reading. Good readers, like good interpreters/translators, remain mindful of this common pitfall.

Throughout the book, the author compares two works of literature. Connecting Jonathan Swift’s A Tale of a Tub with Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians is but one example of literary comparison. Readers are required to be well-versed in both pieces of literature to sufficiently follow along. In fact, the entire book requires extremely well-educated and well-read readers. This is a dense book, not to be read in one sitting alone. Portions of the book include Arabic writings. The author’s poetry and prose are also sprinkled throughout the material. Dr. Abdel-Al is a true lover of words and literary writing. He appears to find great joy in locating two pieces of literature that on the surface seem very different from one another but upon further investigation prove to be quite similar. The title springs forth from this inspiring idea. This is an impressive and important book for literary lovers everywhere.

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