The Polymath

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American Univ in Cairo Press, 2004 - Fiction - 244 pages
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This award-winning historical novel deals with the stormy life of the outstanding Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun, using historical sources, and particularly material from the writer's works, to construct the personal and intellectual universe of a fourteenth-century genius. The dominant concern of the novel -- the uneasy relationship between intellectuals and political power, between scholars and authority -- addresses our times through the transparent veil of history. In the first part of the novel, we are introduced to the mind of Ibn Khaldun as he dictates his work to his scribe and interlocutor. The second part delves into the heart of the man and his retrieval of a measure of happiness and affection in a remarriage, after the drowning of his first wife and their children at sea. Finally we see Ibn Khaldun as a man of action, trying to minimize the imminent horrors of invading armies and averting the sack of Damascus by Tamerlane, only to spend his last years lonely and destitute, having been fired from his post as qadi, his wife having gone to Morocco, and his attempts at saving the political situation having come to nil.
 

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Contents

Translators Note
vii
Preface 3
xiii
Seven Nights of Dictation
17
Between Falling in Love and Operating
81
The Journey to Timur Lang the Scourge of the Century
147
Conclusion
217
Glossary
229
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About the author (2004)

Bensalem Himmich has written a number of philosophical works as well as several novels and collections of poems. The Theocrat received the al-Naqid Award and was chosen by the Authors' Union in Egypt as one of the best novels of the twentieth century. He is the vice-president of the Moroccanand Arab World Writers' Union and is Professor of Philosophy at Mohamed V University in Rabat.

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