The Library of Arabic Literature is a remarkable undertaking. It is publishing, in Arabic and English dual-language volumes, key works of classical and pre-modern Arabic literature from the pre-Islamic era to the cusp of the modern period. Several of these works have not been translated before, while others have not received such careful editing and translation until now, when the editors and translators are consulting original manuscripts. The series launched its first title in December 2012 and, by January 2015, will have published fifteen books. The literature already encompasses a fascinating range of genres, and several other texts are currently being translated or in production—the corpus includes works of mysticism, poetry, wonder tales, long fiction, theology, philosophy, law, science, and history. Supported by a grant from the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute and established in partnership with NYU Press, the series aims to introduce the Arabic literary heritage to specialists and the general public alike, bringing hitherto under-read Arabic literature to English as well as Arabic readers.
The workshop at All Souls will be the first opportunity in the UK to discuss this ambitious and important enterprise. It will bring together scholars, translators, and editors of the Library, and invite respondents to discuss the questions that the endeavour raises. Canon formation, comparative criteria of appreciation, and approaches to translation will be explored, among others. The workshop will also address the conjunction of politics and culture in the contemporary Middle East and the issues of cultural diplomacy.
Reading the Corpus
LAL’s contribution to cultural diplomacy, diffusion, literary exchanges, and education. Wen-chin Ouyang and Chip Rossetti lead discussion with Philip Kennedy, Sean Anthony, Julia Bray, Robert Irwin and Mohamed-Salah Omri. Focus on The Expeditions by Maʿmar ibn Rāshid, edited and translated by Sean W. Anthony, and A Treasury of Virtues by al-Qāḍī al-Quḍāʿī, edited and translated by Tahera Qutbuddin.
Translating the Corpus
LAL’s remit, ambition and complexity. Philip Kennedy and Richard Sieburth lead discussion with Roger Allen, Humphrey Davies, Marilyn Booth and Robyn Creswell. Focus on Leg Over Leg: Volumes 1-4 by Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq, edited and translated by Humphrey Davies, and What ‘Isa Told Us, or, A Period of Time: Volumes One and Two by Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥī, edited and translated by Roger Allen.
Editing the Corpus
Methods and approaches to establishing the texts, linguistic difficulty, history of transmission, literary character, audience. Michael Cooperson leads discussion with Julia Bray, Joseph Lowry, and Devin Stewart.
Remembering the Corpus [Part 3]
LAL’s importance to comparative literature and ways of reading. Marina Warner leads discussion with Dominique Jullien, Ros Ballaster, Wen-chin Ouyang and Matthew Reynolds. Focus on The Epistle of Forgiveness: Volumes One and Two by Abū l-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī, edited and translated by Geert Jan Van Gelder and Gregor Schoeler; and The Principles of Sufism by ʿĀʾishah al-Bāʿūnīyah, edited and translated by Th. Emil Homerin.
Remembering the Corpus [Part 2]
Different genres embraced by LAL and modes of writing. Julia Bray and James Montgomery lead discussion with Beatrice Gruendler and Shawkat Toorawa. Focus on Two Travel Books by Abū Zayd al-Sīrāfī and Ahmad Ibn Faḍlān, edited and translated by Tim Mackintosh-Smith and James Montgomery; Consorts of the Caliphs, edited by Shawkat M. Toorawa and translated by the Editors of the Library of Arabic Literature; and The Life and Times of Abū Tammām by Abū Bakr al-Ṣūlī, edited and translated by Beatrice Gruendler.
Remembering the Corpus
Overview of the project, difficulties, ideals, scope, historical context. Speakers: Philip Kennedy leads discussion with Geert Jan van Gelder, Ferial Ghazoul, and Joseph Lowry. Focus on Classical Arabic Literature, edited and translated by Geert Jan Van Gelder, and The Epistle on Legal Theory by Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shāfiʿī, edited and translated by Joseph E. Lowry.