Library of Arabic Literature

The National Reviews First Library of Arabic Literature Publication

A review of the first publication released by NYU Abu Dhabi's Library of Arabic Literature was published in The National this past weekend. The book, Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology, was edited and translated by Geert Jan van Gelder, Arabist and until recently Laudian professor of Arabic at Oxford University, and published by New York University Press.

The 496-page anthology, which was reviewed by Arabist, Middle East specialist, and author Marcel Kurpershoek, includes a rich array of classical Arabic poems and prose from pre-Islamic times up to the 18th century, drawing from both well-known texts and less familiar pieces that have been made available to English-language audiences for the first time. As Kurpershoek wrote, "All extremes of classical Arab sensibility are represented: from a predilection for intricate puns to invective that would be considered shocking by modern standards of correctness."

In his review, Kurpershoek commends van Gelder on his combination of "impeccable scholarly credentials with original approaches and translations." As he wrote, "Above all, this book makes us aware of the astonishing richness and range of Islam as a civilisation that encompasses tolerant and humanist understandings of man and society" and, he continued, "The translations of this volume are a marvel, and often a tour de force — precise, highly readable and evocative."