Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I often think that writing without a lot of clutter and footnotes is the ideal for readable academic prose, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I also derive a lot of pleasure from really top-notch championship-level footnoting. These are my notes from chapter three of my book, which I'm presenting at Cornell next week. It's not quite done — there's a little bit of chapter to be fleshed out and a few footnotes to be fixed before I submit three chapters to the publisher — but it was done enough to circulate before the colloquium; and the footnotes are deeply satisfying.


130 Ḥasan ibn Rashīq al-Qayrawānī. Kitāb al ‘umda fī maḥāsin al-shi‘r, ed. M. al-Dīn. Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1967.
131 For a setting of Ibn Ezra into an Arabic poetic context, see Raymond P. Scheindlin. “Rabbi Moshe ibn Ezra on the Legitimacy of Poetry,” Medievalia et Humanistica 7 (1976): 101-15.
132 Judah al-Ḥarīzī, who will factor into the next two chapters, left a similar literary footprint in prose composition, using the full range of Arabic literary models to defend and elevate writing in Hebrew.
133 This is not meant to suggest that Judah Halevi and Moses ibn Ezra represent anything like the totality of Arabizing Hebrew poetry or poetics — or even the totality of the form’s responses to the condition of exile and the status of a minority culture. However, as poets who were also authors of some of the most significant works of poetic theory to have emerged from the Andalusi milieu, both in situ and as they contemplated religious and cultural exile, they are apt as reference points for contextualizing the Tibbonim as poetic thinkers within both Andalusi and exilic contexts.
134 For notions of local knowledge and culture, see Clifford Geertz. Local Knowledge. New York: Basic Books, 1985. For the foundational statement of polysystem theory (also referred to as Tel Aviv post-structuralism), see Itamar Even-Zohar. “Polysystem Theory,” Poetics Today 1 (1979): 287-310. It was Rina Drory’s work Models and Contacts: Arabic Literature and its Impact on Medieval Jewish Culture. Leiden: Brill, 2000 (originally published in Hebrew in 1988) that specifically applied polysystem theory to the Iberian context. In general, I find polysystem theory to be somewhat more productive than other current theories used for framing and contextualiziang and organizing our understanding of the cultural history of medieval Iberia. In particular, it demands particular attention to the elements that make up the polysystem, thereby yielding precise and detailed text-based readings that can account for broader cultural phenomena, moreso than theories of cultural hybridity that draw upon the work of Homi Bhaba in postcolonial studies. As a branch of post-structuralism, polysystem theory is particularly devoted to breaking down the binary oppositions of center-periphery and canonical-noncanonical, pairings that are particularly detrimental to the material within traditional study of both Semitic- and Romance-language literature in the Maghreb. Entanglement and itra-actional theory have also become increasingly popular as ways to account for cultural contact, borrowing, on the basis of the writing of Karen Barad, from particle physics for metaphyiscal purposes; however, the use of this theory for explicating cultural contacts outside the realm of the study of material and manuscript culture is, to my mind, unnecessarily elaborate and its utility and the benefit of its utility questionable.
135 Qur’ān 12:2, trans. N. J. Dawood.

136 Qur’ān 16:103, trans. N. J. Dawood.
137 Qur’ān 41:144, trans. N. J. Dawood.
138  For a brief overview of the early development of the doctrine of ‘ijāz, see Roger Allen. The Arabic Literary Heritage. Cambridge: UP, 1998. 379-84.
139 Muḥammad ibn al-Ṭayyib al-Bāqillānī. A Tenth-Century Document of Arabic Literary Theory and Criticism: The Sections on Poetry of ‘Ijāz al-Qur’ān, ed. and trans. Gustave von Grunebaum. Chicago: University of Chicagp Press, 1950. 53-4. The Arabic text appears in an edition published in Cairo in 1930.
140 Al-Baṣīr’s works remain largely unedited. An overview of the state of the manuscript evidence may be found in David Sklare’s chapter on the theologian in The Jews of Medieval Islam, ed. Daniel Frank. Leiden: Brill, 1995. 249-70; and in an article by Sabine Schmidtke in Arabica 53 (2006); as well as in the article on al-Baṣīr by Gregor Schwarb in the Encyclopedia of Jews of the Islamic World.
141 Ross Brann. The Compunctious Poet. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991.
142 H. A. R. Gibb. “The Social Significance of the Shu‘ūbiyya,” in Studies in the Civilization of Islam. Princeton: UP, 1982 reprint. 62-73; Ignaz Goldziher, “Arab and Ajam,” and “Shu‘ūbiyya,” in Muslim Studies, vol. 1. Chicago: 1968.
143 See: James T. Monroe. The Shu‘ūbiyya in al-Andalus. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970; Goran Larssen. Ibn García’s Sh‘ūbiyya Letter: Ethnic and Theological Tensions in Medieval al-Andalus. Leiden: Brill, 2003; Ignaz Goldziher. “Die Shu‘ūbijja unter den Muhammedanern in Spanien,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 53 (1899): 601-20.
144 Ross Brann. The Compunctious Poet. 24 and ff.
145 Judah ibn Tibbon. “Musar Av,” 81.
146 See the discussion of the leadership roles of the Benvenisti family in Catalonia and the related onomastic issues, particularly concerning their adotpion of Alfaqim as their surname in a Romance-speaking context in the nachlass of Elka Klein, published as Jews, Christian Society, and Royal Power in Meideval Barcelona. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006. 78-95.
147 [[[A troubadour footnote.]]]
148 Ḥayyim Schirmann and Ezra Fleischer. The History of Hebrew Poetry in Christian Spain. Jerusalem: Magness Press, 1997. 300.
149 Susan Einbender. No Place of Rest: Jewish Literature, Expulsion and the Memory of Medieval France. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009: 63-6 and ff.
150 Judah ibn Tibbon. “Letter to Asher ben Meshullam of Lunel,” in Otzrot Chajim, ed. Mortiz Steinschneider and Leopold Zunz. Hamburg, 1848. 366. The manuscript, like that of the ethical will, was owned by Heimann Joseph Michael and can now be found at the Bodleian Library as MS Mich. 240 and Neubauer 1402.
151 That the author also plays on the personal name of the recipient in the opening formulae seems to confirm his willingness to pun: Judah engages in other instances of punning in the opening of his letter, making fruitful use, for example, of the homonymy of the recipient’s name, Asher, with the Hebrew relative pronoun, asher. For example, the opening salutations might also be understood as: “My dear interlocutor, my close brother, Asher; his words light my path.” Later, the letter also makes puns on Asher’s name and its homophony with the verb le-asher, to authorize.
152 Judah is not unusual in using words built from this root in order to make a subtle association between certain literary characteristics and their Arabic context. See, for example Brann’s discussion (The Compunctious Poet, 36-7) of the use of Ps. 106:35 (“they mingled (va-yit‘arevu) amongst the nations and learned their ways”) as a way to comment on Jewish acculturation in the Arab world in the work of Halevi, al-Ḥarīzī, and Moses ibn Ezra.
153 Judah ibn Tibbon. “Letter to Asher ben Meshullam of Lunel,” 367.
154 Let me be even more explicit in a note: This should not be understood to mean that classical Arabic poetics should be the benchmark against which Judaeo-Arabic poetics is assessed, with the classical forms being the correct ones and the middle forms being somehow degraded or incorrect; rather,  the latter draws upon and relates to the former while representing its own distinct literary standard.
155 Stephen S. Wise, ed. The Improvement of Moral Qualities. New York, 1902. 106.
156 Brann, The Compunctious Poet. 23.
157 Walter Benjamin. “The Task of the Translator,” in Illumnations. New York: Shocken, 1968. The end of the present section will ultimately conlclude with a more developed discussion of Benjamin as the medievalist’s hero and villain in thinking about translation.
157 This is a concern that Samuel echoes closely in his preface to Moreh ha-Nevuḫīm.
158 Judah ibn Tibbon, “Musar Av,” 76.
159 Again, where Judah leads in his preface to Sefer ha-Riqmah, Samuel follows in his Perush ha-Millot ha-Zarot, once again demonstrating that in lexicographic matters, he falls closely into line.
160 It is also worth mentioning that Schirmann ties Depiera’s poetic-morphological innovations directly to the wider Tibbonid project of Hebrew vocabulary coinage; and so even if Samuel did not situate himself in a literarily Provençal framework, that does not imply that such a framework did not draw upon his presence within it.
161 See relevant pages in previous chapter.
162 Leo Strauss. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988 reprint.
163 [Cite Yehudi]
164According to the digital biography of Rina Drory still maintained online by the University of Tel Aviv (, at the time of her premature death in the year 2000 she was studying the jāhiliya as a metaphor in the construction of the Arabic identity of Arabophone Muslim and Jewish writers.
165 The English translation is drawn from Adler’s publication of this letter, cited above. The quotation (lū et aḇotav yad‘ū az yomerū hī’ ma‘alah me’av leḇen nosa‘at) comes from the diwan of Moses ibn ‘Ezra’.

No comments:

Post a Comment