Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Khilafa of Abu Bakr: A Time of Challenge

(Book) Jacques Barzun: From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000)

Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. 
In this account, Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaisance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have "Puritans as Democrats," "The Monarch's Revolution," "The Artist Prophet and Jester" -- show the recurrent role of great themes throughout the eras. 
The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the creative novelty that will burst forth -- tomorrow or the next day. 
Only after a lifetime of separate studies covering a broad territory could a writer create with such ease the synthesis displayed in this magnificent volume.

In more than half a century of service to Columbia and three decades since, Jacques Barzun has epitomized the potential of liberal education within the University and without. He distinguished himself not only as one of Columbia's most outstanding professors and scholars, but also in a wide variety of delicate administrative positions. A prolific author for both the specialist and the general reader, he published as author or editor more than 30 critical and historical studies over the past eight decades, Barzun is perhaps best known to students for his The Modern Researcher, now in its sixth edition, and to teachers for The American University (1968). His surprise bestseller, From Dawn to Decadence, was published in 2000. In 2003, Barzun was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian award.

Adapted from Timothy P. Cross, An Oasis of Order: The Core Curriculum at Columbia College (New York: Columbia College, Office of the Dean, 1995). 

The Grey Falcon: The Life and Teaching of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī

Series: Islamic History and Civilization, Volume: 155
Author: Hamza Malik
In The Grey Falcon, Hamza Malik offers an account of the life and teaching of the twelfth century scholar and Sufi of Baghdad, and eponym of the Qadiri order, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī (1077-1166). The question of whether Jīlānī was a Sufi, or simply a scholar appropriated by later Sufis as has been sometimes suggested, is tackled through an analysis of his three most popular works, the Ghunya li Ṭālibī Ṭarīq al-Ḥaqq, the Futūḥ al-Ghayb, and the Fatḥ al-Rabbānī. Malik identifies and presents Jīlānī’s Sufi thought and theological stance, and furthermore attempts to paint a picture of the character and personality of Jīlānī, as might be ascertained solely from the works analysed. 

The Book in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (1250-1517)

Scribes, Libraries and Market Series: Islamic History and Civilization, Volume: 162
Author: Doris Behrens-Abouseif
This book is the first to date to be dedicated to the circulation of the book as a commodity in the Mamluk sultanate. It discusses the impact of princely patronage on the production of books, the formation and management of libraries in religious institutions, their size and their physical setting. It documents the significance of private collections and their interaction with institutional libraries and the role of charitable endowments ( waqf ) in the life of libraries. The market as a venue of intellectual and commercial exchanges and a production centre is explored with references to prices and fees. The social and professional background of scribes and calligraphers occupies a major place in this study, which also documents the chain of master-calligraphers over the entire Mamluk period. For her study the author relies on biographical dictionaries, chronicles, waqf documents and manuscripts. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

(Book) Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson Jr. (1995)

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most important figures in the history of American thought, religion, and literature. The vitality of his writings and the unsettling power of his example continue to influence us more than a hundred years after his death. Now Robert D. Richardson Jr. brings to life an Emerson very different from the old stereotype of the passionless Sage of Concord. 
Drawing on a vast amount of new material, including correspondence among the Emerson brothers, Richardson gives us a rewarding intellectual biography that is also a portrait of the whole man. These chapters present a young suitor, a grief-stricken widower, an affectionate father, and a man with an abiding genius for friendship. The great spokesman for individualism and self-reliance turns out to have been a good neighbor, an activist citizen, a loyal brother. 
Here is an Emerson who knew how to laugh, who was self-doubting as well as self-reliant, and who became the greatest intellectual adventurer of his age. Richardson has, as much as possible, let Emerson speak for himself through his published works, his many journals and notebooks, his letters, his reported conversations. This is not merely a study of Emerson's writing and his influence on others; it is Emerson's life as he experienced it.
We see the failed minister, the struggling writer, the political reformer, the poetic liberator. The Emerson of this book not only influenced Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Dickinson, and Frost, he also inspired Nietzsche, William James, Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Jorge Luis Borges. 
Emerson's timeliness is persistent and striking: his insistence that literature and science are not separate cultures, his emphasis on the worth of every individual, his respect for nature. 
Richardson gives careful attention to the enormous range of Emerson's readings—from Persian poets to George Sand—and to his many friendships and personal encounters—from Mary Moody Emerson to the Cherokee chiefs in Boston—evoking both the man and the times in which he lived. Throughout this book, Emerson's unquenchable vitality reaches across the decades, and his hold on us endures.
Robert D. Richardson Jr., Adjunct Professor of Letters at Wesleyan University, is also the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind (California, 1986), which won the Melcher Prize in 1987. Barry Moser is one of the foremost wood engravers and book illustrators in America.

"Arguing that Muslim sources exercised a formative impact on U.S. literary origins,

this book traces a genealogy of Islamic influence that spans America's critical century of self-definition, unfolding from the 1770s to the 1870s. Focusing on celebrated writers from the Revolution to Reconstruction, I excavate Arabic and Persian precedents that shaped U.S. authorial lives and letters, newly exposing neglected witnesses to American literary engagement with Islamic texts and traditions.
[...] Reflecting the increasingly transatlantic an hemispheric perspective of American Studies, this book builds upon recent remappings of U.S. literary origins, defining early American authorship as a dynamic site of global exchange, rather than as an integral outcome of national exceptionalism. [1] 
Pioneered by prominent Americanists including Wai Chee Dimock, Lawrence Buell, Paul Giles, and Susan Manning, this transnational approach to early U.S. literature has including a rising interesting in the Middle East in general, and Islam specifically; exceptional studies authored recently by Brian Yothers (2007) and Jacob Rama Berman (2012), for instance, have advanced a twenty-first-century trajectory of Americanist engagement with the Muslim Middle East that was heralded by Timothy Marr's foundational The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism -- a 2006 study that superbly mapped an expansive "critical history of cultural imagination." [2] 
[...] Rather than an abstract appraisal of American literature's trasnational contexts, The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture emphasizes the practical and the private, exposing the Islamic interiors and interiority of early U.S. authorship. 
Domesticated in a double sense, literal and literary, Muslim sources are seen to permeate the personal lives and labors of iconic American writers, inhabiting their home environs and household writings.  
Extracting Muslim threads woven into the familiar fabric of U.S. letters and sermons, journals and journalism, memorials and marginalia, I argue that the identities and idioms of foundational American authors were catalyzed through creative, and occasionally covert, acts of Islamic engagement. 
My study's emphasis on personal moments of Muslim source reception is sustained, moreover, by the unpublished materials it unearths, recovering tangible witnesses to writers' individual interests in Islamic texts. 
Instead of novel theoretical frame, it is fresh evidence that supports this study's critical intervention, uncovering manuscripts that reveal private American readings of Islamic precedents, or gesture to personal contexts for American authors' published texts on Islam. 
[...] Addressing global influences on icons of U.S. cultures, The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture also pursues a domestic family history, its five body chapters arranged in overlapping chronologies, stretching from revolutionary beginnings to the aftermath of the Civil War, treating successively Ezra Stiles (1727-1795); William Bentley (1759-1819); Washington Irving (1783-1859); Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880); and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).  
Nationally implicated, these five figures have been traditionally framed in terms of their "American" achievements, recognized as U.S. precursors in their respective pursuits, from theology to fiction, Abolitionism to Romanticism. Surprisingly, however, it is The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture that marks the first study to synthesize these authors of American renown, their shared appeal to Muslim sources ironically forging new links between these national literati. [5]
-Jeffrey Einboden, The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture: Muslim Sources from the Revolution to Reconstruction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. xi-xiii.

Monday, November 5, 2018

LITERATURE - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture by Jeffrey Einboden

Jeffrey Einboden is a Professor in the English Department at Northern Illinois University, and a 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, which supported his completion of The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture, a monograph published by Oxford University Press in 2016.
Einboden's other recent books include his Islam and Romanticism: Muslim Currents from Goethe to Emerson (Oneworld, 2014), which accents the generative effects of Islamic influence upon German, British and American Romantics, and his Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature in Middle Eastern Languagespublished in 2013 by Edinburgh University Press, which reads classic American authors as they now appear in Arabic, Hebrew and Persian translation.  
A specialist in early American literature, Islamic reception and Middle Eastern translation, Einboden received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 2005, exploring Ralph Waldo Emerson’s renditions of Sufi poetry - research which informed his own book-length translation of the Persian poet, Muḥammad Shamsuddīn Ḥāfiẓ: The Tangled Braid: Ninety-Nine Poems by Hafiz of Shiraz (Fons Vitae, 2009; co-authored with John Slater).    
Einboden's research into Middle Eastern translation and the Western canon has also appeared in journals such as Middle Eastern Literatures, the Journal of Qur’anic StudiesTranslation and LiteratureMilton QuarterlyLeviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, Nathaniel Hawthorne Review and Literature and Theology. In 2006, Einboden’s article on Goethe and Islamic sources - “The Genesis of Weltliteratur” (Literature and Theology, 2005) - was selected by Oxford Journals as one of the 100 seminal articles published by Oxford University Press during the past century. 

English professor awarded prestigious ACLS fellowship

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