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The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition: A Compendium of Knowledge from the Classical Islamic World

By Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri
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For the first time in English a catalog of the world through fourteenth-century Arab eyes—a kind of Schott’s Miscellany for the Islamic Golden Age An astonishing record of the knowledge of a civilization The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition catalogs everything known to exist from the perspective of a fourteenth-century Egyptian scholar and litterateur. More than 9000 pages and thirty volumes—here abridged to one volume and translated into English for the first time—it contains entries on everything from medieval moon-worshipping 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 groundbreaking 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.For more than seventy years Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1700 titles Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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