The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture

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The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture. By Jerrilynn D. Dodds, Maria Rosa Menocal, and Abigail Krasner Balbale. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2008. Pp. xiii, 395. $40.00 clothbound; $24.00 paperback. ISBN 978-0-300-10609-1 clothbound; 978-0-300-14214-3 paperback.)

The authors of The Arts of Intimacy describe their book as "less a work of original scholarship than a different narration of cultural history" (p. 7). Their declared aim is to make comprehensible to a general readership the extraordinarily complex process of cultural interaction that took place between the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures of the Iberian Peninsula between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries, before a new Spanish identity- which preferred to draw a veil over the profound cultural hybridity that had gone before- came into being in the early-modern period.Taking as its centerpoint the city of Toledo, the book illuminates this process of cultural cross-fertilization through the prism of the arts, architecture, and literature of the period. In seven highly readable chapters, each divided into a series of carefully crafted vignettes, the authors take the reader on an evocative and thoughtprovoking journey, and deploy their undoubted expertise in this field to excellent effect. The text is supplemented by an immensely useful range of inserts that provide information on key people, monuments, and texts of the period, from the Treaty of Tudmir to the Marinids.The book does not exactly break new ground, in that the subject matter will be familiar to specialists, but it impels the reader to reconsider key texts and monuments from novel and sometimes surprising perspectives. …