The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History
A Forgotten Heritage
María Rosa Menocal
"Solidly researched and splendidly written."—Comparative Literature
"Beautifully written. . . . A fascinating introduction to an area of medieval literacy still replete with nationalistic tensions."—Speculum
"Calls for a wider acceptance of the idea that medieval Western culture was influenced more widely by Arabic thought."—Choice
"Admirable for breadth of reading and attractive for its uncramped sympathies. . . . A sobering reminder . . . of the presence of much racism and chauvinism in literary and cultural history."—Relgion and Literature
Arabic culture was a central and shaping phenomenon in medieval Europe, yet its influence on medieval literature has been ignored or marginalized for the last two centuries. In this ground-breaking book, now returned to print with a new afterword by the author, María Rosa Menocal argues that major modifications of the medieval canon and its literary history are necessary.
Menocal reviews the Arabic cultural presence in a variety of key settings, including the courts of William of Aquitaine and Frederick II, the universities in London, Paris, and Bologna, and Cluny under Peter the Venerable, and she examines how our perception of specific texts including the courtly love lyric and the works of Dante and Boccaccio would be altered by an acknowledgment of the Arabic cultural component.
María Rosa Menocal is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University, where she is Director of the Whitney Humanities Center. She is author of The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain and Shards of Love: Exile and the Origins of the Lyric.