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ReviewsLa corónica 31.1, 2002 The Literature of Al-Andalus. The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature . Eds. Maria Rosa Menocal, Raymond P. Scheindlin, and Michael Sells. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 507 pp. ISBN 0521471591 The Literature ofAl-Andalus opens with a passage from Ibn Gabirol's poem "The Palace and the Garden," translated by Raymond P. Scheindlin, that invites the reader to enjoy a visit to Granada and savor its pleasures. The excerpt concludes with a warning: "Halt. Do not cross the boundaries!" (2). The irony of opening with this quote is immediately apparent in the context of this essay collection, which continually and successfully crosses the traditional disciplinary boundaries of literary history. The twenty-six articles, five architectural notes and translated poems included in the volume cover extensive interrelated areas of cultural production, embracing the combined horizons of the other titles in the Cambridge History of Arabic Literature. The disciplinary homes of the editors, an Arabist, a Hebraist, and a Romance scholar, reflect the multiple scholarly and cultural perspectives that they offer in the collection. In the spirited and superbly written introductory essay, "Visions of alAndalus ", Maria Rosa Menocal presents the volume as a series oí miradores. Each chapter, she explains, will provide vantage points on al-Andalus in order to give readers a better appreciation of its complex interweaving of cultures. She addresses the volume to a non-Arabist audience of medievalists that can profit from "fundamental scholarly material on Andalusi literary culture" (8). Although Hispanomedievalists are not specifically included in her description of the range of the collection's potential audience, the volume indeed offers a wealth of material for strengthening the multicultural facets of undergraduate and graduate courses in medieval Iberian literature as well as for scholarly research. Menocal offers three metaphorical miradores as sites of analytic departure : the Alhambra in Granada, Toledo as described in Don Quixote, and the Great Mosque of Córdoba. For Menocal, each imagined, remembered and historical space represents the cultural convergences, appropriations and contentions that mark the "powerfully paradoxical and often unexpected cultural history of al-Andalus as a whole" (3). In addition to crossing boundaries , the volume seeks to make problematic the terminology traditionally used to describe relations between Christian, Arabic, and Jewish cultures in medieval Iberia, such as "Reconquesf'and "convivencia". As Menocal explains, the editors envision the volume as a re-definition of the Andalusi-Arabie La corónica 31.1 (Fall, 2002): 188-91 Reviews189 universe "where Arabic is not easily separable from other strands of medieval culture, where it is often a part of a tight weave -as opposed to a proposed foreign 'influence'- and by making the whole of the cloth expressly accessible to those who, like Cervantes's narrator, might recognize the language but not be able to read it" (16). The structure of the thematically organized sections of the collection underlines the architectural metaphor of the mirador, but the volume's changes of register and structure are also somewhat reminiscent of the muwashshah and their kharjas. For example, a short architectural note on Umayyad palace -building by D.F. Ruggles immediately follows the introduction. The four sections that follow, "The Shapes of Culture", "The Shapes of Literature ", "Andalusians", and "To Sicily", also conclude with short meditations on architectural and cultural spaces, three more by Ruggles and one by Cynthia Robinson. The last set of essays, "Marriages and Exiles", is followed by a chapter titled, "To Al-Andalus, Would She Return the Greeting", containing a full translation of Ibn Zaydün's "Poem in N". The first section, "The Shapes of Culture", contains five essays: "Language ", "Music", "Spaces", "Knowledge" and "Love". Consuelo LópezMorillas 's article on language examines the linguistic diversity of the Iberian peninsula in the Middle Ages, highlighting the gradual shift of language from a marker of ethnicity to one of religion. She reminds readers that although political and linguistic frontiers are not always contiguous, the development of the languages of al-Andalus is intertwined with politics, demographics, religion and literary production. Dwight Reynolds's contribution on music stresses the intimate relationships between music and poetry in al-Andalus and traces the paths of musical cultural exchanges between...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 188-191
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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