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Kutub

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More gems from The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature edited by Robert Irwin: an ancient Arabic proverb: He who kisses the bum receives wind as his reward.

From Kitab al-Hayawan by Abu Uthman ‘Amr ibn Bahr Al-Jahiz (776 – 868 AD):

“… A book is a receptacle filled with knowledge, a container crammed with good sense, a vessel full of jesting and earnestness. It can be if you wish more eloquent than Sahban Wa’il, or less talkative than Baqil; it will amuse you with anecdotes, inform you on all manner of astonishing marvels, entertain you with jokes or move you with homilies, just as you please … I know of no companion more prompt to hand, more rewarding, more helpful or less burdensome, and no tree that lives longer, bears more abundantly or yields more delicious fruit that is handier, easier to pick or more perfectly ripened at all times of the year, than a book… It is a bedside companion that does not interrupt when you are busy but welcomes you when you have a mind to it, and does not demand forced politeness or compel you to avoid its company.”

(excerpt in The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature quoted from Charles Pellat (ed.), The Life and Works of Jahiz (trans. DM Hawke), 1969.

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9 thoughts on “Kutub

  1. Then again, certain books—like one we both know and loathe—can make you regret that you ever learned to read.(sigh)I was amused (and impressed) by something in your profile: I don’t think I’ve ever run across ANYONE else who has admitted to having read Dhalgren!

  2. I’ve actually read it several times. OTOH, I’ve started Stars In My Pocket, Like Grains of Sand two ro three times and never managed to finish it…

  3. It’s been years since I’ve looked at it.Isn’t there a scene with a wonderful description of a piece of polyphonic music put together by the girl, what was her name?(I guess I’ll have to try rereading it while home in March. Current quandary: Do I ask my aunt to send me the copy of Kevin’s book he sent me, wait to read it in March, or try to get a paperback cheap somewhere and get it out of the way? Hmmm….)

  4. Not much of a competition, is it? Dhalgren or Kevin’s latest? Sort of like watching Married with Children or… or… watching something with some intelligence behind it?

  5. (I forget, have you read much of his other stuff?)

  6. Some short stories and the first in his monumental saga. And, who knows, maybe some of his pseudonymous stuff – it’s difficult to keep track. :-)

  7. So…what’s the verdict…similar to what we see in the new Dune books?

  8. Put it this way… I read the first, I’ll not be reading any further in the series, er, saga. It’d be interesting to read BH’s new novel, just to see how much he contributed of the style of the prequels– what am I saying? I have a huge pile of books I want to read already. Why add books I don’t really want to read to it?

  9. Yes…I have a certain book that someone asked me to read that unfortunately got pushed to the sidelines by all this Dune fuss. (Something about killer luggage?)I think I need to settle down and get real. I have only a finite amount of time left in my life. Do I really want to waste it on crap? (Or arguing over crap with idiots and ADDled teens?!)

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