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ix Translator’s Note The Book of Party-Crashing was compiled in the eleventh century by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 1071), a Muslim preacher and scholar of the hadith (reports on the deeds and sayings of the prophet Muhammad).1 Al-Khatib is known mainly for his work Tarikh Baghdad (The History of Baghdad), which describes thousands of Baghdadi scholars. Like most of his writing, his History was intended as an aid for students of the hadith. In its lighthearted subject matter, al-Khatib’s Book of Party-Crashing represents a departure from his more serious-minded religious scholarship. Nevertheless , even this work begins with hadith demonstrating the Prophet’s generosity and lenient attitude 1. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Al-tatfil wa hikayat al-tufayliyin wa akhbaruhum wa nawadir kalamihim wa ash‘aruhum. Translator’s Note x toward the uninvited guest. Al-Khatib provides multiple versions of each hadith, with careful attention to their sources, so that even in this seemingly frivolous project (as he himself characterizes it in his introduction), his scholarly colors shine through. Nevertheless, the party-crashers in this text engage in some lighthearted blasphemy and plenty of drinking (all relatively mild, however, in comparison to many contemporaneous Arabic texts on the same subject). This book represents one of thousands of untranslated works of medieval Arabic literature,2 whose many delights and surprises are consequently unknown to much of the English-speaking world. In many ways it is a typical example of monographic 2. In calling this time period “medieval,” I am applying Western terminology where it does not necessarily belong. For a full condemnation of those who use Western terminology in this fashion, see Thomas Bauer’s review “In Search of ‘Post-classical Literature.’” I persist in my error, however, in order to promote awareness of the fact that medieval European literature evolved in tandem with, even partly as a result of, contemporaneous Arabic literature, the authors of which, in turn, drew no less from classical texts for inspiration than did their European fellows. No line need be drawn down the center of the Mediterranean when discussing certain elements of literature produced during this time period, which is known to English speakers as “medieval.” Translator’s Note xi adab (Arabic belles letters), including both instructive and entertaining elements side by side in a pleasing bouquet. I hope this translation is the first of many works of medieval Arabic humor that I present to the English-speaking reader. I have already begun translation of another eleventh-century Arabic text about party-crashing, The Imitation of Abu al-Qasim, as indeed party-crashers were a favorite topic of the time. For a fun and informative introduction to this work and to other similar Arabic texts, I recommend Geert Jan van Gelder’s Of Dishes and Discourse: Classical Arabic Literary Representations of Food (also published under the title God’s Banquet). I have based my translation of al-Khatib’s work on the manuscript held in the Chester Beatty Library of Dublin, Arabic manuscript 3851. The chapter titles are (occasionally loose) translations of the original chapter titles presented in this manuscript, except for the chapters “Early Party-Crashing,” “Mention of the Party-Crashers’ Conversations, Advice, and Poetry,” and “Accounts of Bunan, the Party-Crasher,” all conglomerations of several adjacent chapters. Some anecdotes presented in the manuscript were not translated in this volume. Most of these anecdotes (twenty-five total) are repetitions of previous anecdotes, with different citations. These were provided meticulously by al-Khatib, whose scholarly Translator’s Note xii instincts led him to include as full a collection of sources as possible. Several untranslated anecdotes are simply elaborations on the chain of transmission . The other missing anecdotes are mostly poetry (fifteen), because poetry is quite frankly difficult to translate (and some say impossible), especially if one renders, as I have, each translation into rhymed verse. I did so in hopes of providing as enjoyable and authentic experience of the Arabic originals as possible , which themselves employ a monorhyme scheme. I have chosen to include the chains of transmission at the beginning of each anecdote because they were clearly important to al-Khatib, whose work as a hadith scholar demanded careful scrutiny of these chains in order to verify each account’s veracity. Sometimes these chains of transmission enter into the anecdote itself, though for the most part, they can safely be skipped by readers of this translation. If the reader is curious about a name mentioned, many...


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