“Surely, the life of the courtesan ʿArib differs in fundamental ways from, for example, the likes of a Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, or even a Justin Bieber. But how exactly? Listening last year to a Radiolab podcast on K-Pop, I was again struck by how modern some aspects of these women’s lives were.”
When Arabophones Weren’t Arabs: Ibn Qutaybah and Identity Formation During the Early Period of Islam
“The book should also be interesting to people who study medieval history of the rest of the world, because this was a time, in the post-Roman world, in which the identities of the modern European nations — the Franks, the Anglo Saxons, and even German identities — were being constructed in Europe. It’s really at the same time that Arabness was being constructed in the Middle East, so from a comparative perspective of the birth of modern nations, this book would be very helpful to people who know a lot about how Anglo Saxon identity was constructed, for instance.”
‘Whose Face is Huge and Wears a Hideous Expression’: On David Larsen’s Translation of ‘Names of the Lion’
Surely this blend of gloriously geeky scholarship (about half of each page is footnotes) combined with the several hundred whimsical, hilarious, gorily descriptive and downright bizarre names for the lion, collected by Ibn Khalawayh and translated and explicated by Larsen with such aplomb, should be a bestseller?
In his introduction, Perry tells us we know this 635-recipe cookbook, soon to be published in a bilingual edition from the LAL, “was the bestseller of the age, to judge from the fact that more copies of it have survived than of all the other medieval cookbooks combined.”
“When a chorus of voices sings words, I take the ensemble to be something of a cross-section of the society. The words in a choral piece carry a weight that, in my view, is different from the more personal medium of the solitary singer on stage because of the sheer number voices we perceive. It is public music. “
Meme-Makers, Puzzle Poems, and the Great Unwashed: Humphrey Davies on ‘Brains Confounded’ and ‘Risible Rhymes’
“I will admit to a hope, though: that they are the tip of an iceberg, and that more such works will be discovered in due course. That’s the more interesting scenario.”
“They do their best to indicate that philosophy – falsafa – is nothing more than a kind of wisdom – hikma – and wisdom is known as one of the true pursuits of god.”
Let’s talk about the chicken and the egg: Which came first, the 101 Nights or the 1001?
Bruce Fudge, Professor of Arabic at the University of Geneva and author of Qur’anic Hermeneutics: al-Tabrisi and the Craft of Commentary (2011), wanted to take a break from Qur’an commentary and “read all the things that religious scholars told you not to read.”
A crowdsourced list of cult classics.
“Complete with fight scenes, love scenes, and warrior women, this epic follows a woman and her son and their posse of friends as they move back and forth primarily in the Arab-Byzantine borderlands, with visits to Constantinople and to the caliph’s court in Baghdad.”
“I’m not entirely sure who shouldn’t read this. It’s tempting to hope that the Pamela Gellers, Robert Spencers, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadis of the world will overlook it. But actually I think it would be alright if they didn’t.”