Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

María Rosa Menocal / Jun 01, 2020
Ornament of the World How Muslims Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain Undoing the familiar notion of the Middle Ages as a period of religious persecution and intellectual stagnation Maria Menocal now brings us a portrait of a medieval culture where literature science
  • Title: Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
  • Author: María Rosa Menocal
  • ISBN: 9780316566889
  • Page: 396
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Undoing the familiar notion of the Middle Ages as a period of religious persecution and intellectual stagnation, Maria Menocal now brings us a portrait of a medieval culture where literature, science, and tolerance flourished for 500 years.The story begins as a young prince in exile the last heir to an Islamic dynasty founds a new kingdom on the Iberian peninsula alUndoing the familiar notion of the Middle Ages as a period of religious persecution and intellectual stagnation, Maria Menocal now brings us a portrait of a medieval culture where literature, science, and tolerance flourished for 500 years.The story begins as a young prince in exile the last heir to an Islamic dynasty founds a new kingdom on the Iberian peninsula al Andalus Combining the best of what Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures had to offer, al Andalus and its successors influenced the rest of Europe in dramatic ways, from the death of liturgical Latin and the spread of secular poetry, to remarkable feats in architecture, science, and technology The glory of the Andalusian kingdoms endured until the Renaissance, when Christian monarchs forcibly converted, executed, or expelled non Catholics from Spain In this wonderful book, we can finally explore the lost history whose legacy is still with us in countless ways The period covered here is extremely relevant to understanding some of today s most terrible conflicts.
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      Published :2020-03-05T09:32:11+00:00

    About "María Rosa Menocal"

      • María Rosa Menocal

        Mar a Rosa Menocal is a scholar of medieval culture and history Menocal earned a B.A M.A and Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania Before joining the Yale University faculty in 1986, she taught Romance philology at the University of Pennsylvania.In 2002, Menocal wrote the book The Ornament of the World How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, which has been translated into many languages, and includes an introduction by fellow Yale Sterling Professor in the Humanities Harold Bloom The book focuses on tolerance in Medieval Spain within the Muslim and Christian kingdoms through political examples as well as cultural examples.Menocal also is the author of The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History A Forgotten Heritage 1987 , as well as Writing in Dante s Cult of Truth from Borges to Boccacio 1991 and Shards of Love Exile and the Origins of the Lyric 1994.Born in Cuba and raised in Philadelphia, Menocal is currently director of the Yale Whitney Humanities Center and the co editor of The Literature of Al Andalus in the Cambridge History of Arabic Literature series.

    718 Comments

    1. This book is all about fragmentation Fragmented are the arguments, fragmented are the contents, fragmented was the society Menocal strives to explore, and fragmented was also the tolerance that the author believes existed in Medieval Spain Fragmented remains then my Like Dislike of the book.It does not help that in this mosaic of unequal elements the glue that is supposed to bind them together, Menocal s language, did not seem to coalesce her pieces Reading her prose, although it is very clear a [...]


    2. The ornament of the world is the famous description of Cordoba given to her readers by the tenth century Saxon writer Hroswitha, who from her far off convent at Gandersheim perceived the exceptional qualities and the centrality of the Cordoban caliphate Mar a Rosa Menocal 1953 2012 Cuban born scholar of medieval culture and history and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University degrees from the University of Pennsylvania taught Romance philology at the University of Pennsylvania direct [...]


    3. First, some words of warning do not approach this particular book as a historical documentation of a period, lest you be very frustrated within a few chapters The Decline and Fall The Moorish Way this is not While Menocal does provide an outline of the events, rulers, and major actors of the era in the first chapter, it is nothing than a quick sketch, intended to explain the backdrop of what she really wishes to talk about Elsewhere, the historical information is presented in a very short, inco [...]


    4. Idealism what we call quixotic idealism, so vividly is it depicted by Cervantes is an act of the imagination, and perhaps a doomed one, and the question on the table becomes whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.This is a book about nostalgia, and nostalgia is a dangerous thing It s one of the tricks of our memory to filter the past through a sentimental lens, forgetting all the bad and magnifying the good And when thinking about a time before we lived, we run the risk not only of twisting [...]


    5. The fact that Ferdinand and Isabella did not choose the path of tolerance is seen as an example of the intractability and inevitability of intolerance, especially in the premodern era But their actions may be far better understood as the failure to make the difficult decision, to have the courage to cultivate a society that can live with its own flagrant contradictions They chose instead to go down the modern path, the one defined by an ethic of unity and harmony, and which is largely intoleran [...]


    6. I have to say this book has awoken a thirst to learn much Medieval history of Spain and Europe as a whole I enjoyed this book so much because of the history it provides and how it piqued my interest in learning about Medieval times in Al Andalus, Spain, as well as the rest of Europe and Middle East, the development of vernacular languages and developing literature via such authors as Dante, Boccaccio and at the end of the era, Cervantes I also want to sample some of the books on poetry and his [...]


    7. Maria Rosa Menocal s The Ornament of the New World dealt with a time frame in which people became pioneers either due to personal desire or because they were forcefully moved to another place Menocal explained people s migration patterns, how locations name changes occurred, and why shifts in personal assignment to a religious faith happened.The book explained the growth of Arabic in Iberia, which previously was a Latin based region, to the birth of the Mozarabe dialect I was intrigued by this d [...]


    8. Ornament of the World is a book about medieval era in Iberian peninsula Menocal starts the time at 750, right after the Abbasid massacre of the Umayyad dynasty in Syria and ends it around 1500 after the exile of Jews, Muslims and convertos from the peninsula In the epilogue the timeline even stretches to the WWII and deliberate destruction of National Library in Sarajevo by Serbian Army During the 750 years of time studied, we see the linguistic and cultural development in this part of europe As [...]


    9. Menocal s objective is clear from the subtitle of her book she sets out to demonstrate to a popular audience the culture of convivencia, religious and ethnic co existence, which predominated in medieval Iberia There s certainly much to back up her argument, with the presence of Arabic speaking and writing Christians and Jews Jewish officials reaching high ranks in Christian governments the preservation, transmission and transformation of classical knowledge by Muslim translators and scholars a t [...]


    10. I just couldn t get in to the writing style of this author One has to wonder which among the many fantasies come to life of the palatine city of Madinat al Zahra would have most stupified the army troops that breached its walls one day in 1009.I felt intensely on edge all the way to page 91, where I gave up.I think Kelly s review really nailed my frustration do not approach this particular book as a historical documentation of a period, lest you be very frustrated within a few chapters the his [...]


    11. What a fantastic book Menocal was a specialist in Medieval history and Literature who chose to distill her deep knowledge of Muslim Spain into this book for popular audiences She has done a great service The book is a bit controversial The Muslim period in Spain, dating from the early 700s to 1492 is an incredibly diverse period, involving separate conquests, kingdoms, and the slow Spanish Christian reconquest of the peninsula This Reconquista happened in fits and starts over 700 years Menocal c [...]


    12. It was a pleasure reading this book The author paints pictures of key individuals shaping this period of cross fertilization between the three religions and their associated cultures It is refreshing to come accross a history book that goes below the surface of events and commings and goings of rulers and provides insights into what motivated the key actors and trends How this culture of tolerance came to an end and what followed fills one with sadness but at the same time demonstrates what is p [...]


    13. This was a group read that I missed out on While the group members read and discussed it, they decided to read Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf together at a later date The later date came, and I wanted to join them I started reading Leo Africanus and 20 pages in, decided to set it aside to read this first.I m glad I did, although I did feel a bit out of my depth with so much of this history unfamiliar to me I was unable to read this book with any kind of critical eye, but it did succeed in making [...]


    14. An important and enjoyable book, it asks vexing questions of history and contemporary life Can environments of cultural and religious tolerance obtain, or are they destined to fall apart Is tolerance even an ideal worth striving for, or are we better to focus on merely avoiding violence and tyranny The experiences of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians of medieval al Andalus provide some answers, but, inevitably, even questions, about the struggle for tolerance and peace in our own times.


    15. This is a must read for any one interested in Spanish history, and in particular the interconnections between Christian, Muslim and Jewish culture in Southern Spain.I read it a few years ago just before we travelled to Andalucia and was profoundly influenced by it.


    16. Buku tulisan Maria Rosa Menocal ini adalah antara buku unik dan menarik yang saya baca dalam usaha mencari gali sejarah Andalusia Buku ini berlainan daripada genre buku yang saya baca sebelum ini tentang sejarah Andalusia yang kebanyakkannya akan menyajikan fakta fakta berdasarkan kronologi sejak dari mula hingga ke akhir tamadun hebat ini.Penulis buku ini yang merupakan seorang pensyarah dan pengkaji Sejarah dan Kebudayaan di Universiti Pennsylvania menggunakan pendekatan lain dalam mempersemba [...]


    17. Medieval Spain is one of those subjects I would like to know about, so a used copy of Menocal s book on al Andalus was an attractive purchase for me It s a little limited than I would like, being about literary culture than anything else though there is plenty of architecture, and other high cultural objects as well.But the how as seen in the subtitle is generally left out There is some discussion of how tolerance was built into a lot of early Muslim culture, but nothing on the day to day fun [...]


    18. It is only half right to call this a history book it is a eulogy, a panegyric, and a bit of a fable Menocal writes her history of al Andalus with a particular purpose to change the way we view the Middle Ages, or at least part of it In place of grimy savagery she finds noble enlightenment instead of blinkered intolerance she portrays a generous commitment to coexistence The catch is that this portrait does not apply to the entire medieval landscape, only to one shining city on a hill, C rdoba, a [...]


    19. Maria Rosa Menocal s episodic history of medieval Spain is well organized, erudite, and romantic The book starts with a long chapter that surveys the period, roughly 780 through 1360 Shorter chapters then provide vignettes lifted out of the larger history, focusing on scenes or people whose lives illustrate the broader trends and turning points Overall, the story consists of three periods the initial caliphate, which brought Arab and Muslim culture to Spain the taifa era, in which the fusion of [...]


    20. Stunning in the world it opens and the portrait it paints The chapter on Don Quixote moved me to tears, and showed me a new side of a novel I ve lived in and through since childhood I don t have time to re read Don Quixote I really don t And yet Menocal s lessons are vital and chilling in equal measure how a culture of art, philosophy, music, poetry, and not tolerance, but something bigger, perhaps mutual enrichment thrives, how it falls by our own hands, how quickly we forget what s come before [...]


    21. Very interesting book, well written, accessible to the general reader Especially in the wake of 9 11 01 it s important to know about a different face of Islam It was through the Muslims in Spain, for example, that much of the writings of the ancient Greeks came down to us It s also relevant for the history of the New World, which I think is where most GoodReads readers live Southern Spain was the source of much of the migration to the New World, including likely a lot of Jews who had converted t [...]


    22. To the linguistic and historical scholars, or better yet a combination of both, this piece of literature would be as much a treasure to read as its title implies of Medieval Spain when it was dominated by an Islamic world Those studying Spanish or Arabic as a language or those wanting to know another side that lead up to and during the Reconquista will not be left empty handed.Menocal s vignette style of the historical events in this area of history transcends in a movie like showcase highlighti [...]


    23. Since I was slow on the draw, I didn t read this until I was already in Andalucia, and didn t finish until I got back from the trip Menocal s basic thesis, that we are pretty much totally used to considering that period from a Northern European perspective and are probably totally ignorant of the Andalucian renaissance, was completely correct for me, so it was pretty much mind blown Makes you nostalgic for that caliphate I was psyched to return my copy to Brooklyn Public Library with my ticket t [...]


    24. Because some of the historical facts I already knew appeared in this book with a certain spin, I never felt quite sure when I was reading history and when I was reading Menocal s opinion Still an interesting place and time in history.


    25. A poorly written, dangerously biased account of a place and time in history which could very well have been fabricated by the author.


    26. Good work covering an interesting,influential, but rarely covered in depth,era I was worried that this would not be an unbiased text, but the coverage of the positives and negatives seemed very even This era can be confusing as many big players had the same names a lot of X,XI,XII following titles Solid bibliography This is a really dynamic time and place, and this book is a good lens to look through Worth the time, check it out.


    27. The book leads us through a journey in Al Andalus, revealing all the grandors of this civilization Adescontruction of the Middle Ages as a dark period as we discover in Al Andalus a center for philosophers, poets and artists and where Jews, Christians and Muslims, for most of the time, could live in a tolerant and fruitful environment.


    28. Ornament of the World is the story of a unique civilization in medieval Europe, one which ultimately disintegrated but left a hopeful legacy For hundreds of years, Europe hosted a distinctly Islamic polity Andalusia, the last stand of the Umayyads The inheritors of Muhammad s empire, they were driven out by a palace coup and reestablished themselves across the Mediterranean, building a glorious realm of their own They brought the best of an ascendant civilization and combined it with the remnant [...]


    29. Menocal s book is an exploration of a corner of medieval history that is still little known in the U.S outside academic circles the multi ethnic, religiously plural culture of medieval Iberia that s Spain and Portugal today , with a special focus on the Muslim dominated part of the peninsula Menocal was a scholar of peninsular literature, so after a brief overview, her history is built around a dozen or so cultural vignettes, all illustrating the circumstances leading to the emergence and declin [...]


    30. The Ornament of the World is the fascinating account of El Andaluz, the Muslim part of Spain that existed between 750 and 1492, first a caliphate occupying almost the complete peninsula, later a bunch of city states occupying half Iberia, and finally, only Grenada and surroundings Menocal tells us its story through some key players, either Muslim, Jewish or Christian Her story is therefore a little patchy, but rich in examples, and wide in scope, ranging from politics, via philosophy and science [...]


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