Archive for the ‘kalila wa-dimna’ Tag

A diagram for the textual genealogy of Kalila and Dimna   2 comments

Many of us who work on Syriac literature read portions of one of the Syriac versions of Kalila wa-Dimna in our beginning days of studying the language. It’s an entertaining and engaging read, generally not too difficult, and contains many words not so commonly met with in texts of more pedestrian, run-of-the-mill, literary genres. Several months ago I was studying the work again, not only its Syriac witness, but others, too, and naturally I consulted Brockelmann’s article on it in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (2d ed., vol. 4, 503-506). From the details he provides I drew up for my own reference this diagram, admittedly crude, of the relationships among the many versions of this long popular text.

I keep it up on the wall in my office, not because I consult it that often, but because I appreciate the complexity — linguistic, literary, historico-cultural, &c. — that it serves as a reminder for. If anyone else finds it of use, good; if not, well, at least this may serve as a prod for you to devote some of your next leisure reading to these stories in some language or other!

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