Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 1

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 1

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 1

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Leg over Leg recounts the life, from birth to middle age, of 'the Fariyaq,' alter ego of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, a pivotal figure in the intellectual and literary history of the modern Arab world. The always edifying and often hilarious adventures of the Fariyaq, as he moves from his native Lebanon to Egypt, Malta, Tunis, England and France, provide the author with grist for wide-ranging discussions of the intellectual and social issues of his time, including the ignorance and corruption of the Lebanese religious and secular establishments, freedom of conscience, women's rights, sexual relationships between men and women, the manners and customs of Europeans and Middle Easterners, and the differences between contemporary European and Arabic literatures. Al-Shidyaq also celebrates the genius and beauty of the classical Arabic language. Akin to Sterne and Rabelais in his satirical outlook and technical inventiveness, al-Shidyaq produced in Leg Over Leg a work that is unique and unclassifiable. It was initially widely condemned for its attacks on authority, its religious skepticism, and its "obscenity," and later editions were often abridged. This is the first English translation of the work and reproduces the original Arabic text, published under the author's supervision in 1855.

Excerpt

Rebecca C. Johnson

While I do not claim to be the first writer in the world to follow this path or
thrust a pinch of it up the noses of those who pretend they are dozing, I do notice
that all the authors in my bookcase are shackled to a single stylistic chain ….
Once you’ve become familiar with one link of the chain, you feel as though
you know all the others, so that each one of them may truly be called a chain
man, given that each has followed in the footsteps of the rest and imitated them
closely. This being established, know that I have exited the chain, for I am no
chain-man and will not form the rump of the line; nor do I have any desire to be
at its front, for the latter is an even more calamitous place to be than the former.

Leg over Leg (1.17.10)

For most Anglophone readers, this will be their first introduction to the writing of Fāris al-Shidyāq (later Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq, born in 1805 or 1806 and died in 1887), a foundational figure in Arabic literary modernity. For, although he is the author of at least four published works of literary prose, ten linguistic studies of Arabic, Turkish, English, and French, over 20,000 lines of poetry, and at least four unpublished manuscripts (not to mention his many translations, journalistic and critical essays, or those works that have been lost), his work has never appeared in English until now. For specialists in Arabic literature and many native readers of Arabic, however, he needs little introduction. As belletrist, poet, travel writer, translator, lexicographer, grammarian, literary historian, essayist, publisher, and newspaper editor, he is known as a pioneer of modern Arabic literature, a reviver of classical forms, the father of Arabic journalism, and no less than a modernizer of the Arabic language itself. His masterwork, Al-Sāq ʿalā l-sāq fī mā huwa al-Fāriyāq (Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be, 1855), is acknowledged as one of the most distinguished works of the nineteenth century and an inaugural text of Arab modernity. It is also among the most controversial: generically impossible . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.