The [European] Other in Medieval Arabic Literature and Culture: Ninth-Twelfth Century AD

Hardcover | March 15, 2012

byNizar F. Hermes

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Contrary to the monolithic impression left by postcolonial theories of Orientalism, the book makes the case that Orientals did not exist solely to be gazed at. Exploring a cross-section of 9th through 12th centuries, non-religious Arabic prose and poetic texts such as the geo-cosmographical literature, récits de voyages, diplomatic memoirs, captivity narratives, pre-Crusade and Crusade poetry, Nizar F. Hermes shows that there was no shortage of medieval Muslims who cast curious eyes and minds towards the "European Other" and that more than a handful of them were textually and physically interested in Europe.

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Contrary to the monolithic impression left by postcolonial theories of Orientalism, the book makes the case that Orientals did not exist solely to be gazed at. Exploring a cross-section of 9th through 12th centuries, non-religious Arabic prose and poetic texts such as the geo-cosmographical literature, récits de voyages, diplomatic mem...

Nizar F. Hermes received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. He has been a lecturer of Arabic Studies at the University of Toronto and published journal articles and creative pieces in English and Arabic.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:260 pages, 8.56 × 5.63 × 0.8 inPublished:March 15, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230109403

ISBN - 13:9780230109407

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Be(yond)fore Orientalism: Medieval Muslims and the Other: Re-Drawing the Essentialist Boundaries * Translation, Travel, and the Other: the Fascination with Greek and Oriental Cultures * European Barbarity and Civilization in some Medieval Arabic Geographical Sources: Al-Masʿudi and al-Bakri as Two Case Studies * Writing the North: Europe and Europeans in Medieval Arabic Travel Literature * Poetry, Frontiers, and Alterity: Views and Perceptions of al-Rum (Byzantines) and al-Ifranja (Crusaders)

Editorial Reviews

"In this important book, which is based on his PhD dissertation, Nizar Hermes explores the depiction of Europeans in medieval Arabic texts. In the process he draws attention to the corpus of works by writers from both the eastern and western Muslim world that describe Europe, and in doing so proposes a valuable re-assessment of what these works tell us about Muslim attitudes to Europe and its inhabitants during the period under discussion . . . This book will hence be invaluable to scholars, students and interested laypersons seeking to gain a better understanding of how Europe was seen from the Islamic world." - The Medieval Review "A valuable and cogent review of what a number of medieval Arabic writers, in particular geographers, have said about medieval Europe and Europeans . . . Hermes has provided an extremely useful and readable survey addressing an important issue in the history of cultural contacts between Europe and the Arab world." - Speculum"While previous research has tended to argue that Arabs basically took note of [Western] Europe only since the eighteenth century, the present study by Nizar F. Hennes, based on his Toronto doctoral dissertation, presents a wealth of different material that confirms in a variety of ways that Arab writers and scholars paid considerable attention to Europe already since the ninth century. Hermes does not intend to consider whether or how much Arabic culture might have influenced medieval European culture, which would be certainly a most intriguing topic as well; instead he makes wonderful and highly impressive efforts to determine what Arab scholars knew about Europe, as reflected by their chronicles, travelogues, and scientific work . . . Hermes's study represents a major step forward in our understanding of East-West communication already in the Middle Ages." - Mediaevistik: International Journal of Interdisciplinary Medieval