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The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250

When Muslim invaders conquered Sicily in the ninth century, they took control of a weakened Greek state in cultural decadence. When, two centuries later, the Normans seized control of the island, they found a Muslim state just entering its cultural prime. Rather than replace the practices and idioms of the vanquished people with their own, the Normans in Sicily adopted and adapted the Greco-Arabic culture that had developed on the island. Yet less than a hundred years later, the cultural and linguistic mix had been reduced, a Romance tradition had come to dominate, and Sicilian poets composed the first body of love lyrics in an Italianate vernacular. Karla Mallette has written the first literary history of the Kingdom of Sicily in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Where other scholars have separated out the island's literature along linguistic grounds, Mallette surveys the literary production in Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Romance dialects, in addition to the architectural remains, numismatic inscriptions, and diplomatic records, to argue for a multilingual, multicultural, and coherent literary tradition. Drawing on postcolonial theory to consider institutional and intellectual power, the exchange of knowledge across cultural boundaries, and the containment and celebration of the other that accompanies cultural transition, the book includes an extensive selection of poems and documents translated from the Arabic, Latin, Old French, and Italian. The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250 opens up new venues for understanding the complexity of a place and culture at the crossroads of East and West, Islam and Christianity, tradition and innovation.
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Table of Contents

1. Toward a Literary History of the Kingdom of Sicily 2. An Archeology of the Sicilian Park 3. Frederick II and the Genesis of a Sicilian Romance Culture 4. Rereading Le Origini: Sicilian Romance Poetry and the Language of Natural Philosophy 5. Beyond Le Origini: Sicilian Romance Poetry in a Feminine Voice 6. Vernacularity and Sicilian Culture TEXTS IN TRANSLATION From the Arabic Ibn Hamdis "In youth, the soul attains its desire" (from the Siqilliyyat) "Because of long-lasting grief " (from the Siqilliyyat) "Oh, garden of love" "You tortured me with the two elements" Abu Musa "Oh, blonde tribe, my blood is on your hands" "My tears expose my love" Al-Atrabanishi, "Oh, Favara of the two seas!" Al-Buthayri and Ibn Bashrun, "Pass round the golden carnelian-red [wine]" Abu al-Daw', "The radiant moon has been extinguished" Abu Hafs, "He sought solace" Introduction to al-Idrisi's Geography The Travels of Ibn Jubayr The Daughter of Ibn 'Abbad and Frederick II From the Latin Henricus Aristippus's Preface to His Translation of Plato's Phaedo, ca. 1156 Preface to a Translation of Ptolemy's Almagest by an Unknown Translator, ca. 1160 "Hugo Falcandus" on the Death of William and the Arrival of the Germans Peter of Eboli, Lament on the Death of William II Frederick II, Hunting with Birds Frederick II and Lucera Innocent IV Excommunicates Frederick The Destruction of Lucera From the Old French Introduction to the Book of Sydrac From the Sicilian Giacomo da Lentini "Maravigliosamente" "Amor non vole" "Or come pote si gran donna intrare" "A l'aire claro o vista ploggia dare" Frederick II, "Dolze meo drudo" Mazzeo di Ricco, "Sei anni o travagliato" Rinaldo d'Aquino, "Gia mai non mi conforto" Guido delle Colonne, "Ancor che l'aigua per lo foco lassi" Anonymous, "Oi lassa 'namorata" Notes Bibliography Index Acknowledgments

About the Author

Karla Mallette teaches civilization studies at American University of Beirut.


"Mallette is a lucid and at times moving writer, and she has exactly the sort of broad-based vision and notion of literary history that has been in short supply these last several decades."--Maria Rosa Menocal, Yale University

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