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Leg Over Leg: Volumes Three and Four

by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq Library of Arabic Literature
Pub Date:
10/2015
ISBN:
9781479813292
Format:
Pbk 600 pages
Price:
AU$39.99 NZ$43.47
Product Status: Available in Approx 5 days
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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, all the while celebrating the genius and beauty of the classical Arabic language.

Volumes Three and Four see the peripatetic Fariyaq fall in love and convert to Catholicism for twenty-four hours in order to marry. Although the narrative revolves around a series of debates over the nature of male-female relationships, opportunities also arise for disquisitions on the physical and moral significance of such diverse topics as the buttocks, the unreliability of virginity tests, and the human capacity for self-delusion. Lengthy stays in England and France allow for animadversions on the table manners and sexual aberrations of their citizens, but the discussion, whether it involve dance-halls, pleasure gardens, or poetry, almost always ends up returning to gender relations.

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 complete English translation of this groundbreaking work.

Table of Contents Leg Over Leg, Volume Three 1 Contents of the Book 4 Firing Up a Furnace 8 Love and Marriage 52 Contagion 108 Analepsis 126 Travel, and the Correction of a Common Misconception 134 A Banquet and Various Kinds of Hot Sauce 158 That Stinging Sensation You Feel When You Get Hot Sauce up Your Nose 174 Dreams 176 The Second Dream 184 The Third Dream 190 Physicking the Foul of Breath 200 A Voyage and a Conversation 214 A Maqamah to Make One Stand 250 Raveningly Ravenously Famished 272 The Journey from the Monastery 280 Ecstasy 288 An Incitement to Nudity 290 A Drain 300 Assorted Wonders 326 A Metropolitan Theft 344 Book Four Chapter 1: Unleashing a Sea 10 Chapter 2: A Farewell 28 Chapter 3: Assorted Pleas for Mercy 50 Chapter 4: The Rules for Retelling 62 Chapter 5: The Superiority of Women 72 Chapter 6: A Discussion 84 Chapter 7: Compare and Contrast 96 Chapter 8: A Voyage Festinate and Language Incomprehensibly and Inscrutably Intricate 112

"Its contemporaneity is astonishing... It would be doing Leg Over Leg a massive disservice to not make it clear how funny it is. This is a book that for all its challenges, all its insight into humanity, all its place in history, had me regularly laughing out loud."-Music and Literature

"We're having a particularly good season for literary discoveries from the past, with recent publications of Volumes 1 and 2 of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq's 'Leg Over Leg' (1855)..."-Martin Riker,New York Times Book Review

"...Leg Over Leg by the Lebanese intellectual Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, [has] long been held to be untranslatable and so [is] appearing, in [its] entirety, in English for the first time."-Lydia Wilson,Times Literary Supplement

"It is not too early to state that the publication of this work, in this edition, is a game-changer. This is a foundational work of modern Arabic literature and its publication in English is long overdue — but given how it is presented here, it was perhaps worth the wait. This edition, with helpful endnotes, the original Arabic text, and in a translation that both reads well and appears to closely mirror the original, seems, in almost every way, ideal… I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this is the most important literary publication of a translation into English, in terms of literary history and our understanding of it, in years." -The Complete Review

"Humphrey Davies’s masterful translation makes accessible this unique and fascinating work, deserving of wider recognition and study […] The translation adroitly and sympathetically captures the linguistic exuberance and literary inventiveness of the original." -Banipal Magazine

“The heroic achievement of award-winning translator Humphrey Davies marks the first ever English translation of this pivotal work… An accessible, informative, and highly entertaining read.” -Banipal Magazine

"Al-Shidyaq, born in Lebanon in the early years of the nineteenth century, was a Zelig of the Arabic literary world, and his Leg Over Leg is a bawdy, hilarious, epically word-obsessed, and unclassifiable book, which has never been translated into English before…"-Sal Robinson,Moby Lives

"Humphrey Davies’ translation, published in four dual-language volumes, is a triumph. He skillfully renders punning, rhyming prose without breaking the spell… Leg Over Leg stands out for both its stylistic brazenness and the excellence of the translation. With this bilingual edition, the Library of Arabic Literature helps fill a large cultural gap and alters our view of Arabic literature and the formal trajectory of the novel outside the West. Any reader for whom the term ‘world literature’ is more than an empty platitude must read Humphrey Davies's translation."-John Yargo,Los Angeles Review of Books
Humphrey Davies is an award-winning translator of Arabic literature from the Ottoman period to the present. Writers he has translated include Yusuf al-Shirbini, Elias Khoury, Alaa Al Aswany, Bahaa Taher, Muhammad Mustagab, Gamal al-Ghitani, Hamdy el-Gazzar, Khaled Al-Berry, and Ahmed Alaidy. He lives in Cairo. Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1805 or 1806-1887) was a foundational figure in modern Arabic literature. Born to a prominent Maronite family in Lebanon, al-Shidyaq was a pioneering publisher, poet, essayist, lexicographer and translator. Known as 'the father of Arabic journalism,' al-Shidyaq played a major role in reviving and modernizing the Arabic language.