Islamic Crosspollinations. Interactions in the Medieval Middle East. - AKASOY, A., J.E. MONTOGOMERY, and P.E. PORMANN, (eds.),


?It is rare that one reads a collection of essays resulting from a colloquium or workshop with a sense of real excitement. This collection is one of those rare occasions. (? ) Several pieces brought particular enlightenment and pleasure. For instance there is Elizabeth Fowden?s examination of the early Muslim engagement with Christian churches and holy places, an engagement of sharing and respect in which monasteries by the early Abbasid period had come ?to represent in the Muslim literary imagination places of sensual beauty and ease where food, wine, sacred books and sexual titillation converged?. She demonstrates in a range of ways how Christian monastic culture nourished Arab muslim culture. This cross-pollination is one notion which Manu, both Christian and Muslim, might deny should they ever get to hear of it. In a most entertaining piece of detective work Garth Bowden decodes a distinctive Greek presence in the bathhouse of al-Walid?s hunting lodge. He identifies a painting in a key transitional point in the building as a version of an image relatively widely available in the eastern Mediterranean world, that of Dionysus discovering Ariadne asleep on the beach at Naxos. He links this to al-Walid?s poetry mourning the loss of his beloved Salma. Ariadne asleep ?is a symbolic expression of longing for reawakening from death throug the intervention of a god.? Great hunch, great crosspollination! Then, there is Deborah Howard?s fascinating demonstration of how the citizens of Venice appropriated the Egyptian city of Alexandria - cradle of Christianity, the place where the Bible was translated into Greek and the site of the martyrdom of St Mark (?). Montgomery?s piece, which rounds of the collection is a magisterial survey of the approaches to cultural contact in the Islamic context which have already been taken and also approaches which might yet be taken. (?) All scholars addressing issues of cultural interaction will benefit from consulting this essay. The book as a whole, moreover, for this and other essays should go on to the undergraduate bibliographies of those reading Islamic and European history.? (FRANCIS ROBINSON in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2009, pp.258-260).
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2007Uitgever: Gibb Memorial TrustISBN-10: 0906094550ISBN-13: 9780906094556
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