Translation is not only the intellectual, creative process by which a text written in a given language is transferred into another. Rather like any human activity, it takes place in a specific social and historical context that informs and structures it, just as it informs and structures other creative processes. In the case of translation, the operation becomes doubly complicated since, by definition, two languages and thus two cultures and two societies are involved. Translation from European languages in modern Egypt began in the years 1830-1840, as one of the means used by Muhammad Ali’s incipient state in its attempt at closing the intellectual and technical gap between Egypt and Europe. Arabic literature appears in the French market as the most translated non-European literary production, with an average of 10 to 20 translations published each year in the 1980s. The Orientalist paradigm has influenced to a great extent the linguistics and semiotics of translation, thus imposing its own conceptual framework.