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In the Arabic eleventh-century, scholars were intensely preoccupied with the way that language generated truth and beauty in the space between God and the poets. Alexander Key leads the reader through discussions of language, mind, and reality across multiple genres of scholarship in the work of four of the most famous Classical Arabic scholars. The littérateur ar-Rāġib al-Iṣfahānī, the theologian and legal theorist Ibn Fūrak, the philosopher Ibn Sīnā (known in the west as Avicenna), and the literary critic ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Ǧurǧānī shared a conceptual vocabulary based on the words maʿnā and ḥaqīqah. They built theories that can be used today. We still want to understand how poetry works through syntax to create affect, and we are still interested in the problem of how language, mind, and reality interact. Language Between God and the Poets makes Classical Arabic solutions to these problems available for the first time in twenty-first-century English, and does so within a rigorous and original theoretical framework for the translation of theory.
“Alexander Key takes four major exponents of eleventh-century Arabic lexicography, theology, logic, and poetics and explores the interconnectedness of their thinking on ‘mental content’ and its various ‘accurate’ realizations. This book, brimming with philological insight, crackles with erudition.” JAMES E. MONTGOMERY, Professor of Arabic, University of Cambridge
“This is really an excellent book—well-written, engaging, intellectually exciting, and a great advance in the fi eld. The selection of four scholars, experts in different disciplines, but all talking about language and meaning, is extremely clever. The sophistication and nuance of the argument makes this a work of solid scholarship.” ROBERT GLEAVE, Professor of Arabic Studies, University of Exeter
ALEXANDER KEY is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at Stanford University.
Key, A. 2018. Language between God and the Poets: Maʿnā in the Eleventh Century. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.54
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