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The Arabic Anonymous in a World Classic

The Arabic Anonymous in a World Classic

Objective

AnonymClassic is the first ever comprehensive study of Kalila and Dimna (a book of wisdom in fable form), a text of premodern world literature. Its spread is comparable to that of the Bible, except that it passed from Hinduism and Buddhism via Islam to Christianity. Its Arabic version, produced in the 8th century, when this was the lingua franca of the Near East, became the source of all further translations up to the 19th century. The work’s multilingual history involving circa forty languages has never been systematically studied. The absence of available research has made world literature ignore it, while scholars of Arabic avoided it because of its widely diverging manuscripts, so that the actual shape of the Arabic key version is still in need of investigation. AnonymClassic tests a number of ‘high-risk’ propositions, including three key hypotheses: 1) The anonymous Arabic copyists of Kalila and Dimna are de facto co-authors, 2) their agency is comparable to that of the named medieval translators, and 3) the fluctuation of the Arabic versions is conditioned by the work’s fictional status. AnonymClassic’s methodology relies on a cross-lingual narratological analysis of the Arabic versions and all medieval translations (supported by a synoptic digital edition), which takes precisely the interventions at each stage of transmission (redaction, translation) as its subject. Considering the work’s paths of dissemination from India to Europe, AnonymClassic will challenge the prevalent Western theoretical lens on world literature conceived ‘from above’ with the view ‘from below,’ based on the attested cross-cultural network constituted by its versions. AnonymClassic will introduce a new paradigm of an East-Western literary continuum with Arabic as a cultural bridge. Against the current background of Europe’s diversifying and multicultural society, AnonymClassic purposes to integrate pre-modern Near Eastern literature and culture into our understanding of Global Culture.
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Host institution

FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN

Address

Kaiserswerther Strasse 16-18
14195 Berlin

Germany

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 2 435 113

Beneficiaries (1)

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FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 2 435 113

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 742635

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 January 2018

  • End date

    31 December 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 435 113,77

  • EU contribution

    € 2 435 113

Hosted by:

FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN

Germany