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Making it New
MS Yah. Ar. 219 Ghazali Kitab al-Mishkah va-al-Misbah

Making it New

Medieval Muslim and Jewish Literature between Translation and Poetry

Making it New

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From Spain in the west to Iran in the east, medieval Muslim and Jewish writers were citizens of a shared republic of letters. Towering figures like the eleventh century Sufi mystic and scholar, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, or his near contemporary, the poet and philosopher Yehuda Halevi, reshaped a common received tradition in surprising and innovative ways, through prose and verse. However, works by these and others innovative thinkers have been largely inaccessible to those who cannot read the original Arabic, Persian, or Hebrew.

In their celebrated translations, Peter Cole and Eric Ormsby have set out to fill this gap; as poets themselves, their own works are illuminated by the language and style of their medieval forebears. The NLI is honored to host them in conversation with Islam and Middle East Collection Curator Samuel Thrope about the pleasures and challenges of translating Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew literature from the Islamic world; how their work as translators and scholars intersects with their poetry; and what lessons these Muslim and Jewish thinkers can teach us today.Peter Cole’s books include The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, c. 950-1492 (Princeton), The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition (Yale), and Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (FSG).

Eric Ormsby's books include Al-Ghazali on Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment (Cambridge Islamic Texts Society), Goethe's West-Eastern Divan (Gingko), and Time's Covenant: Selected Poems (Biblioasis).

Dr. Samuel Thrope, Curator of the Islam and Middle East Collection, in conversation with:

Professor Eric Ormsby, scholar, poet, and translator, Freie Universität, Berlin
Peter Cole, poet and translator, Yale University


Wednesday May 26th 15 Sivan 08:00 - 09:00


Dr. Samuel Thrope, Professor Eric Ormsby, Peter Cole


Online Zoom Event Map

For Who?

Everyone, Researchers of Islam, Judaism and Literature





MS Yah. Ar. 219 Ghazali Kitab al-Mishkah va-al-Misbah