by al-Nuwayri, Shihab al-Din, Muhanna, Elias | Middle East
Published 06/10/2016 by Penguin Books Ltd (Penguin Classics)
Paperback | 352 pages
An astonishing record of the knowledge of a civilization, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition catalogues everything known to exist from the perspective of a 14th-century Egyptian scholar and litterateur. More than 9,000 pages and 30 volumes--here abridged to one volume, and translated into English for the first time--it contains entries on everything from medieval moon-worshiping cults, sexual aphrodisiacs, and the substance of clouds, to how to get the smell of alcohol off one's breath, the deliciousness of cheese made from buffalo milk, and the nesting habits of flamingos.
Similar works by Western authors, including Pliny's Natural History, have been available in English for centuries. This ground-breaking translation of a remarkable Arabic text--expertly abridged and annotated--offers a look at the world through the highly literary and impressively knowledgeable societies of the classical Islamic world. Meticulously arranged and delightfully eclectic, it is a compendium to be treasured--a true monument of erudition.