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Rediscovering the Islamic ClassicsHow Editors and Print Culture Transformed an Intellectual Tradition$
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Ahmed El Shamsy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174563

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174563.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

Postclassical Book Culture

Postclassical Book Culture

(p.31) Chapter 2 Postclassical Book Culture
Rediscovering the Islamic Classics

Ahmed El Shamsy

Princeton University Press

This chapter concerns the postclassical book culture. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the continuing loss of manuscripts to Europe and the dire state of endowed libraries in the Arabic-speaking world meant that the full breadth of the Arabo-Islamic classical heritage was slipping progressively further out of reach of Muslim scholars. The weakening and dissolution of the traditional institutions dedicated to the systematic preservation of books left literary reproduction largely at the mercy of the market: copyists would reproduce books only if there was demand for them. But scholars in this period showed surprisingly little interest in older, classical works. The reason for this lack of interest lay in a scholarly culture that rested on the twin pillars of textual scholasticism and epistemological esotericism.

Keywords:   postclassical book culture, scholarly culture, Muslim scholars, book reproduction, book preservation, textual scholasticism, epistemological esotericism, Arabo-Islamic classical heritage, book learning

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