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The Ring of the Dove: A Treatise on the Art and Practice of Arab Love

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1898942030
ISBN-10: 189894203X
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Luzac Oriental (March 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189894203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1898942030
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,472,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ejaz Shaikh on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ibn Hazm's psychology is subtly manifested in this book. He gives detailed description of love as an attribute and accident. Also, the different catagories of love, including: falling in love while asleep, falling in love through a description, falling in love at first sight, etc. The readers should keep in mind that much of material in this book is not something Ibn Hazm himself endorses, if it can be correctly attributed to him. Rather, he is merely scrutinizing scenarios from the lives of the people he knew or was told about - be they righteous or sinful. I must add, Ibn Hazm reconciles his stance towards this subject by devoting the last two chapters on purely orthodox and morally accepted chapters: "The Vileness of Sinning" & "The Virtue of Continence".
A word about the translator would be beneficial. Even though A.J.Arberry is eloquent in his English language, after all he is a doctor in literature, I must admit that he isn't quite there in mastery of the Arabic language, especially classical Arabic, and specifically, that of Ibn Hazm's time. A.J. Berry has tried his best, yet has made some mistakes in translation. This is especially seen when he translates the poems liberally for the sake of the rhyme in the English language. I personally believe he shouldn't have done that. As one cannot make a poem rhyme in both languages. If it rhymes in Arabic, it won't rhyme in English, due to obvious reasons. He took considerable liberties for that purpose. The result is: much of poetry loses its orginality, in terms of language, syntax and diction. Moreover, this work was translated in the 1940's, some 60 years ago. Hence, the period of time might also be responsible for the odd English structures. I would really like a fresh new translation of this work due to this reason.
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Format: Paperback
Essentially a treatise on love, the work is a delightful account of the complexities, intricacies, scandals and perils associated with romantic love. The author, Ibn Hazm (456 AH) was an Andalusian polymath, scholar, historian, theologian and poet, however, the present is his only surviving literary work.

The title hints at the ring of feathers found around the necks of pigeons which symbolises the "chain of love" that eternally binds lovers in classical Islamic literature. Ibn Hazm offers a vast range of fascinating observations on love including the act of falling in love via a description, falling in love while sleeping and the various roles mediators play between lovers. In numerous passages, Hazm will have you in awe at his acute awareness of human nature. But perhaps more striking than anything is the harsh realism of his observations for example, when remarking on the notion of falling in love at first sight, he exclaims:

When a man falls in love at first sight, and forms a sudden attachment as the result of a fleeting glance, that proves him to be little steadfast, and proclaims that he will as suddenly forget his romantic adventure; it testifies to his fickleness and inconstancy. So, it is with all things; the quicker they grow, the quicker they decay; while on the other hand slow produced is slow consumed.

Sometimes strenuous are the frequent 'poems' Hazm offers after each topic and can become very distracting from the main body of the text especially because it is difficult to appreciate their poetic merit in translation. Nonetheless, abounding in numerous anecdotes, the work is especially fascinating when read as a historical text as it offers a glimpse into a past that is to us forever lost.
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