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Hebrew poetry of the golden age in al-Andalus. Anthology

The aim of the project is to prepare a bilingual – Polish-Hebrew – edition of a representative selection of poems by the most important Jewish poets writing on the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages. This edition will include a literary translation and critical study of works that are considered to be among the most important items of world cultural heritage, originating from the era when Jewish culture flourished under Muslim rule in al-Andalus, in close proximity to the growing Christian kingdom.

Hebrew lyric poetry created at that time is of extremely high artistic value and in many respects is innovative in relation to earlier Jewish achievements in this field. The innovativeness of this literature lies not only in its unprecedented formal clarity, which resulted from the adoption of modern prosodic models from Arabic lyricism, and in its unprecedented variety of genres, but also in the very approach to language and the ways in which it was used. In addition to their literary activities, the poets of the period in question engaged in in-depth linguistic studies of biblical Hebrew, were experts in the language and its grammar, and consciously set themselves the goal of fully reconstructing the linguistic system of classical Hebrew in their own works. Thanks to the theoretical knowledge gained in their scholarly work, they succeeded in their own poetic practice in bringing about the resurrection of classical Hebrew in its purest form, although in each of them it acquired certain individual characteristics. Their deep rootedness in their own tradition is also reflected on the level of poetics, in the rich quotations, references, allusions and paraphrases of the biblical text. As a result, these poems bear unique witness to the deep, multilayered blending of Muslim and Jewish cultures.

The works of Golden Age authors are not only an extremely important part of the Jewish cultural legacy, but also an important element of European civilization, without which it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the phenomenon that was multicultural and multireligious medieval Europe. Despite the wealth of source texts made available through nineteenth- and twentieth-century editions, these works are scarcely, if at all, represented in Polish culture, whether in translation or academic studies. As a result, this thematic area constitutes a veritable terra incognita of Polish science.

The proposed bilingual edition will contain the first comprehensive, representative selection of works by Jewish poets of the Golden Age in five volumes.


NPRH grant no. 22H 18 0199 86