Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 2

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 2

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 2

Leg over Leg or the Turtle in the Tree: Concerning the Fāriyāq, What Manner of Creature Might He Be - Vol. 2

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

Then my energy returned and I started writing again, thinking it best that I commence Book Two with something weighty, so that it should be given greater consideration and remain for longer a matter of cogitation, and, just as I commenced Book One with something to demonstrate my thorough knowledge of certain high matters—and I’m assuming you haven’t already forgotten what you read earlier—I thought it would be a good idea now to start with certain low matters, to keep things symmetrical. In addition, given that plain rock must be counted among the precious stones that are both hard to obtain and beneficial, it occurred to me that I should roll a boulder of that material down from the topmost peak of my thoughts to the lowest bottoms of men’s ears. Now, then, if you stand and watch its progress without getting in its way or trying to stop it, it will pass you by just as happiness has me, which is to say, without touching you. Otherwise (if you think it a simple matter to bar its descent), it will pass over you and thrust you under it, and God protect us from the consequences of such a thrust! Observe: here it is, shifting in preparation for its fall, and now it’s on its way. Beware then, and beware! Stand at a distance and hear the message in its thunder: “Who looks on this world with the eye of reason—on the diversity and convergence of its . . .

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