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Leg Over Leg

Leg Over Leg: Volume Three

Fāris al-Shidyāq
Edited and translated by Humphrey Davies
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Leg Over Leg
    Book Description:

    Leg over Legrecounts the life, from birth to middle age, of 'the Fariyaq,' alter ego of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, a pivotal figure in the intellectual and literary history of the modern Arab world. The always edifying and often hilarious adventures of the Fariyaq, as he moves from his native Lebanon to Egypt, Malta, Tunis, England and France, provide the author with grist for wide-ranging discussions of the intellectual and social issues of his time, including the ignorance and corruption of the Lebanese religious and secular establishments, freedom of conscience, women's rights, sexual relationships between men and women, the manners and customs of Europeans and Middle Easterners, and the differences between contemporary European and Arabic literatures. Al-Shidyaq also celebrates the genius and beauty of the classical Arabic language.

    Akin to Sterne and Rabelais in his satirical outlook and technical inventiveness, al-Shidyaq produced inLeg Over Lega work that is unique and unclassifiable. It was initially widely condemned for its attacks on authority, its religious skepticism, and its "obscenity," and later editions were often abridged. This is the first English translation of the work and reproduces the original Arabic text, published under the author's supervision in 1855.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-6368-6
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Leg Over Leg, Volume Three. Contents of the Book
    (pp. 1-7)
  4. Chapter 1 في اضرام اتوز
    (pp. 8-51)

    Are they not enough, the troubles to which men are subject by way of misery andcare, effort andwear, toil anddisease, hardship anddis-ease, of deprivation andlucklessness, despair andunhappiness? Men are carried to nausea and craving, born in pain and suffering, nursed to their mothers’detriment, weaned to theirimperilment. They crawl only tostumble, climb only totumble, walk only tolag, labor only toflag, find themselvesunemployedonly by hunger’s pangs to bedestroyed. They languish and grow weak when they gowithout, suffer indigestion when they eat and growstout. When they...

  5. Chapter 2 في العشق والزواج
    (pp. 52-107)

    I mentioned at the end of Book Two that God first afflicted the Fāriyāq with many diseases and more books, then rescued him from them all, and that, believing himself pardoned, he felt great relief and devoted himself to song. Now I must relate how that episodeturned outand all that this sinful pursuitbrought about. To get down to detail, the house that contained the Bag-men was next door to the house of a merchant who had a daughter10who loved music, diversion, and the raptures of art, reserving a specially soft spot for singing. Every time she...

  6. Chapter 3 في العدوى
    (pp. 108-125)

    It has been stated previously, in the first maqāmah,37that the contagion of evil spreads more widely than that of good and that one man with mange may infect a whole city while a healthy man will infect none of his neighbors, and the same is true of disorders of the brain and the heart. The proof of this, as they claim, is that the brains of teachers of small children go soft and their judgment turns foolish because they spend too much time in their company and mix with them too much. The same goes for those who spend...

  7. Chapter 4 في التورية
    (pp. 126-133)

    It is the custom of my fellow writers sometimes to go back and leap over a period of time and connect an event that happened before it to an event that happened after it. This is called analepsis (tawriyah), that is, “taking backward” (warrāʾ). They may also start by mentioning everything about the protagonist from his first whisperings into his beloved’s ear until his reappearance as a married man. In the course of this, the author will relate such long and tedious matters as how his face paled and his pulse raced when he met her, how he was reduced...

  8. Chapter 5 في سفر وتصحيح غلط اشتهر
    (pp. 134-157)

    The Bag-man who was the Fāriyāq’s traveling companion had sent a letter from Cairo to some acquaintances of his in Alexandria asking them to prepare lodging for them, and after reaching that city they spent some time there awaiting the arrival of the “fire-ship”58that went to the island, all eating at one table and discussing baggish business, the forthcoming voyage, and so on. Now the Fāriyāq’s wife was familiar with nothing but her parents’ house and spoke of nothing but things that had happened between her and her mother, or her mother and the maid, or the last and...

  9. Chapter 6 في وليمة وابازيرمتنوّعة
    (pp. 158-173)

    The Fāriyāq and his wife now set about exploring the streets of the city,88dressed in the costume of the people of Egypt. He was wearing wide drawers, whose bottoms wrapped themselves around him in front and in back as he walked. She had enveloped herself in a white woolen hooded cloak so as to cover her sleeves, which otherwise would have swept the ground. The passersby and shopkeepers were amazed by them and didn’t know whether his wife was a woman or not, some asking, “Is it a man or a woman?”, some following along behind them, some touching...

  10. Chapter 7 في الحُرتة
    (pp. 174-175)

    Our previous comments on the Fāriyāq, made at a time when he was single, were an intrusion; how much more so would they be now, when he’s a husband? I think it better, therefore, to leave him now, in his married state (for this conversation of theirs took place at night, and there’s no call for us to spoil the rest of it for them), until they awake and he goes to his Oneiromancer’s Chamber, meaning the place appointed for him to interpret dreams. Your Eminence may likewise be ready, after suffering the stinging sensation induced by all that hot...

  11. Chapter 8 في الاحلام
    (pp. 176-183)

    Behold the Fāriyāq, seated on a chair, in front of him a table bearing a large number of books, among them, for all the scraps of paper they contained, not a scrap of food,103in his fingers a long pen, and in his hands a pot containing ink as black as tar. He has started interpreting dreams seen by the head of the Chamber104in his sleep.

    The First Dream. The aforementioned hag-ridden person beheld himself traveling to India, where he met upon the road a mare, getting on in years and with no saddle upon her. When the mare...

  12. Chapter 9 في الحلم الثانى
    (pp. 184-189)

    The master of the Oneiromancer’s Chamber—may God prolong hisdays, exalt his standing among the hag-ridden and give it araise—beheld in a dream one day that he had conceived the desire to write a sermon and read it out to the congregation on a feast day, so he took pen and paper and wrote a single letter and lo, he heard his wife calling to him from her room to help her put on her stockings, so he left his writing and hastened to her. After he had helped her to put on her stockings and returned,...

  13. Chapter 10 في الحلم الثالث
    (pp. 190-199)

    The master of the Oneiromancer’s Chamber—may God prolong his tenure as spokesman for allhag-ridden dreamersand realize his dreams along with those of otherhigh achievers—saw one day in a dream that a tall staircase consisting of a hundred steps had been set up for him so that he could climb it and preach to the congregation from the top. After he’d shaved his beard and mustache and donned his stair-climbing clothes, he dispatched someone to gather the faithful in an appointed place and all had been informed as to this in advance and gone there before...

  14. Chapter 11 في اصلاح البخر
    (pp. 200-213)

    Now it had reached the ears of the island’s ruler that the Fāriyāq had arrived there to interpret dreams and that he was a great expert in that art. He had also heard that he had a talent for treating those with bad breath. One day, therefore, he sent a chamberlain to him to tell him, “The ruler has summoned you to come to him today on a matter of importance, so you must attend him.” At the appointed hour, the Fāriyāq made his way to the ruler, apprehensive lest he might have dreamed some grand sovereign dream that would...

  15. Chapter 12 في سفرومحاورة
    (pp. 214-249)

    The following day, the Fāriyāq went to the Chamber apprehensive about having to interpret the monster dream, but the master came to tell him, “The idea has sprung to my mind of making a trip to the Syrian lands for a change of air: the air of that clime is good and dreams dreamed there are true and easy to interpret. I see that you, like me, are weakened in your powers, thin of body. Prepare yourself then for the journey. May God smooth the path and we return in good health!” So the Fāriyāq requested the ruler’s permission to...

  16. Chapter 13 فى مقامة مقيهة
    (pp. 250-271)

    Faid al-Hāwif ibn Hifām in lifping tones,141“By the Recoiler I was seduced” (I seek refuge with God from such an introduction!) “—that Recoiler who whispers in men’searsevery dark thought and all that feeds theirfears—into thinking I’d married a woman cunning anddeceitful, loudmouthed andlustful, shrewish andfrigid, censorious andrigid, one moment vanished withouttrace, the next in yourface, a womanlewdandrude, answering questions neverasked, throwing down the gauntlet with none to take totask, proposing things to which no coin couldaspire, and casting me into perils ringed...

  17. Chapter 14 في جوع دَيقوع دُهقوع
    (pp. 272-279)

    When the Bag-man found that living in Beirut was good for neither his body nor his mind,158he decided to leave it and set off for the Mountain, for he had gotten it into his head that he’d like to live in a Greek Orthodox monastery. He therefore proceeded with his wife and the Fāriyāq and they put up in a village below said monastery159for a few days. Now certain local beauties used to keep the Fāriyāq company there and share his meals, and when one of these learned that he was going up the following day to the...

  18. Chapter 15 فى السفر من الد ير
    (pp. 280-287)

    The Fāriyāq and the Branch each mounted a mule, and the mistress and her husband each a mare, and a company of travelers joined them and they set off, making for Damascus. Somewhere along the road, the Fāriyāq’s mule took fright at some passing surmise that occurred to it, bolted with him, and then threw him, and he landed with his thigh on a rock so that when he stood up he limped like a hyena. The master of the Chamber was saddened, being worried that the work of oneiromancy might be delayed, while the man’s wife gloated since she...

  19. Chapter 16 في النشوة
    (pp. 288-289)

    It’s the smell of Umm Dafār, in which all that walks or flies or plows the seas is as one, and it is made plain in the title.

    Can you smell it?175...

  20. Chapter 17 في الحض على التعر ى
    (pp. 290-299)

    The two of them176then entered the town and the Fāriyāq went back to interpreting dreams and physicking the foul of breath. After a short while, a Persian, of whom it was said that he had been a Muslim and become a Christian and that he was a master poet well-known among the scholars of Persia, came to visit the master of the Chamber. The latter therefore took the Fāriyāq to welcome him in the quarantine quarters. He turned out to be a short, squat, round, bearded little fellow, and when he entered the town, he put up at the...

  21. Chapter 18 في بلوعة
    (pp. 300-325)

    When the Fāriyāq was left with no more dreams to interpret, he was charged with the translation of a book198on behalf of the Committee199in the land of the English, so he translated it for them into this language of ours, according to its proper rules. It so happened that at the same time Metropolitan Atanāsiyūs al-Tutūnjī the Aleppine, author ofAl-Ḥakākah fī l-rakākah(The Leavings Pile concerning Lame Style), traveled to the same country on some pot-scraping business and got to know the aforesaid Committee, whom he proceeded to inform that the Fāriyāq’s language was utterly corrupt because...

  22. Chapter 19 في عجائب شتى
    (pp. 326-343)

    Wonders! Marvels! Prodigies! Miracles! Sensations! Astonishments! Things to gawp at, things to learn from! Things stupendous! Things incredible! Things beyond understanding! Things beyond imagining! The fantastic, the extraordinary, the bewildering, the outlandish, the awesome, the amazing! Bewilderments and puzzlements! Descriptions beggared! Beliefs staggered! Holy mackerel and holy cow! Verily, men delude themselves.

    This bitty-buttocked,249thin-thighed, shrivel-shanked, barely boobed, ant-armed mistress of mine uses pads, stuffing, and balls of yarn to puff out her shift at her breasts so as to make people think she’s big-busted and well-endowed, but from where, my lady, are you supposed to have acquired this ample...

  23. Chapter 20 في سرقة مطر انية
    (pp. 344-352)

    When the Fāriyāq returned from his time with the aforementioned emir, he informed his wife of the latter’s kindnesses to him and that he had promised him a good post in Cairo. “I’ll go ahead, then,” she said, “while you wait for him here. I miss my parents greatly, so let me go to them.” “So be it,” said he, and when the time for her departure drew close, he set about bidding her farewell, saying, “Remember, wife, that on this island you have a husband who cares for you and a lover who will not forget you,” to which...

  24. Notes
    (pp. 353-380)
  25. Glossary
    (pp. 381-384)
  26. Index
    (pp. 385-393)
  27. About the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute
    (pp. 394-394)
  28. About the Typefaces
    (pp. 395-395)
  29. About the Editor-Translator
    (pp. 396-396)