Leg over Leg
"Al-Shidyaq, born in Lebanon in the early years of the nineteenth century, was a Zelig of the Arabic literary world, and his Leg Over Leg is a bawdy, hilarious, epically word-obsessed, and unclassifiable book, which has never been translated into English before…"
"It is not too early to state that the publication of this work, in this edition, is a game-changer. This is a foundational work of modern Arabic literature and its publication in English is long overdue—but given how it is presented here, it was perhaps worth the wait. This edition, with helpful endnotes, the original Arabic text, and in a translation that both reads well and appears to closely mirror the original, seems, in almost every way, ideal… I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this is the most important literary publication of a translation into English, in terms of literary history and our understanding of it, in years."
—The Complete Review
“The heroic achievement of award-winning translator Humphrey Davies marks the first ever English translation of this pivotal work… An accessible, informative, and highly entertaining read.”
"We're having a particularly good season for literary discoveries from the past, with recent publications of Volumes 1 and 2 of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq's 'Leg Over Leg' (1855)..."
—Martin Riker, New York Times Book Review
"...Leg Over Leg by the Lebanese intellectual Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, [has] long been held to be untranslatable and so [is] appearing, in [its] entirety, in English for the first time."
—Lydia Wilson, Times Literary Supplement
"Its contemporaneity is astonishing... It would be doing Leg Over Leg a massive disservice to not make it clear how funny it is. This is a book that for all its challenges, all its insight into humanity, all its place in history, had me regularly laughing out loud."
—Music and Literature
"Humphrey Davies’ translation, published in four dual-language volumes, is a triumph. He skillfully renders punning, rhyming prose without breaking the spell… Leg Over Leg stands out for both its stylistic brazenness and the excellence of the translation. With this bilingual edition, the Library of Arabic Literature helps fill a large cultural gap and alters our view of Arabic literature and the formal trajectory of the novel outside the West. Any reader for whom the term ‘world literature’ is more than an empty platitude must read Humphrey Davies's translation."
—John Yargo, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq's Leg Over Leg, by all accounts the finest, wildest, funniest and most surprising novel in Arabic, was first published in 1885; Humphrey Davies has just finished bringing us all four volumes in English--a tour de force of the translator's art."
—Times Literary Supplement
"But these translations, in turn, thicken our understanding of contemporary work. Just as we need Shakespeare and Austen to read contemporary English literature, we need a bit of Mutanabbi if we are going to feel the texture of Elias Khoury’s incredible novel As Though She Were Sleeping."
"Humphrey Davies’s version of al-Shidyaq’s novel is the first in English and it has many virtues."
—New York Review of Books
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