With the long-term goal of creating a major library of classical Arabic literature in English, the newly launched Library of Arabic Literature (LAL) is already on its way. Its initial plans to publish 35 English translations of great works in classical Arabic literature mark the beginning stages of achieving this goal, as well as establish the LAL as the first comprehensive library of its kind.
"Classical Arabic literature, broadly understood (i.e., across history, philosophy, poetry, narrative, etc.), makes up a magnificent and rich corpus, but it remains relatively unknown among English-language readers," said Philip Kennedy, faculty director, NYUAD Institute, and general editor of the LAL's editorial board. "I don't know anyone who's heard about this project who hasn't been moved by its ambition and desired scope — and who doesn't recognize the essential need for it."
I don't know anyone who's heard about this project who hasn't been moved by its ambition and desired scope — and who doesn't recognize the essential need for it.
Funded by a grant from the NYUAD Institute, the project will serve scholars and students alike, and include translations of single- and multi-volume works and anthologies of poetry, poetics, fiction, religion, philosophy, law, science, history, and historiography. The translations — which will appear in a parallel-text format with Arabic and English on facing pages — will be published by NYU Press and simultaneously be available as e-books. An online forum will also offer samples of ongoing translations with original Arabic texts.
Kennedy and a team of seven editors will work with an international group of 26 distinguished scholars, renowned in Arabic literature and Islamic studies, to undertake the translations, the first of which is scheduled for publication in late 2011. "That all these scholars have agreed to serve is a huge endorsement of the very principles of the project and they way it was conceived," said Kennedy. "So it's a terrific start."