Meshal Haqadmoni - Fables from the Distant Past

A Parallel Hebrew-English Text

By Isaac Ibn Sahula

Edited by: Raphael Loewe

Contributions by: Raphael Loewe

The wondrous fables of Ibn Sahula in Meshal haqadmoni, presented here in English for the first time, provide a most unusual introduction to the intellectual and social universe of the Sephardi Jewish world of thirteenth-century Spain. Ibn Sahula wrote his fables in rhymed prose, here rendered into English as rhymed couplets. They comprise a series of satirical debates between a cynic and a moralist, put into the mouths of animals; the moralist always triumphs. The debates, which touch on such subjects as time, the soul, the physical sciences and medicine, astronomy, and astrology, amply reflect human foibles, political compromise, and court intrigue. They are suffused throughout with traditional Jewish law and lore, a flavour reinforced by the profusion of biblical quotations reapplied. With parallel Hebrew and English texts, explanatory notes, indication of textual variants, and references for all the biblical and other allusions, this edition has much to offer to scholars in many areas: medieval Hebrew literature,medieval intellectual history, Sephardi studies, and the literature and folklore of Spain. Both the translation and the scholarly annotations reflect Raphael Loewe's deep understanding of Ibn Sahula's world, including the interrelationship of Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic speculative thought and the interplay between those languages. Scholars will profit enormously from the textual annotations, and specialist and nonspecialist alike will benefit from the masterly introduction. Two full series of illustrations are reproduced alongside the text: the woodcuts from the second edition (Venice, c.1547), and the splendid vignettes in the Rothschild Miscellany, a fifteenth-century Italian mansucript in the Israel Museum. Raphael Loewe was formerly Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew at University College London, and is a former visiting professor at Brown University. His publications concern various aspects of Judaism in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and include much translation. His English translations of a substantial number of liturgical poems for the Passover season are contained in his Rylands Haggadah (1988), and others-among them the Royal Crown-in his Ibn Gabirol (1989). His translation of FitzGerald's Omar Khayy?m into medieval Hebrew verse was published in 1982. He is also a contributing author of the companion volumes to the facsimile editions of the Barcelona Haggadah (1992), the Rothschild Haggadah (2000), the Parma Psalter (1996), and the North French Miscellany (2002). Many other translations remain unpublished, being privately circulated among friends. 'The joy to be encountered by those who rise to his intellectual challenge is great. The Littman Library is owed an immense debt by all lovers of Hebrew literature for having committed to this ambitious project and, although the two volumes are expensive, the quality of Meshal haqadmoni is such that the price is worth paying, and all those interested in Jewish literature and especially that of the medieval period should have this work on their shelves. Raphael Loewe's translation and commentary on Ibn Sahula's work is a lasting testimony to a great scholar and a great teacher with a poet's soul.' Charles H. Middleburgh

948 pages

Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781874774563