Boris Liebrenz: "Ibn Ḥazm's Ṭawq al-Ḥamama (The Neck-Ring of the Dove)"

"Ibn Ḥazm's Ṭawq al-Ḥamama (The Neck-Ring of the Dove)", in Bestsellers and Masterpieces. The changing medieval canon, eds. Heather Blurton and Dwight F. Reynolds (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2022), pp. 79-112.

Today, the Ṭawq al-ḥamāma is not only the most famous work by the Andalusian scholar Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456 / 1064), it has become a nearly ubiquitous text: in the Arabic-speaking world, it is found in school-curricula and widely read; on a global scale it has been translated into numerous languages; and it has sparked not only much scholarship, but also inspired modern literary adaptations. It is considered a quintessential guide to the theme of love in Arabic literature. Yet this modern popularity is in stark contrast to its perilous transmission. How could it be that a text so fundamental today could be transmitted to us on the feeble thread of a single manuscript, now held in Leiden? Its singularity, however, does not mean a lack of interest in the book between its inception and re-discovery in the 19th century. The manuscript bears many traces of former possessors and readers, traces that have hitherto not been analyzed. This contribution proposes to chart the way of this manuscript in the East, explain how it ended up in Leiden, and finally how it was first edited and popularized in the 19th and early 20th century.

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