The Tongue of Adam

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Product Details

Price
$13.95
Publisher
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
Pages
128
Dimensions
4.5 X 7.2 X 0.2 inches | 0.2 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9780811224932

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About the Author

Abdelfattah Kilito was born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1945. He has received the Great Moroccan Award (1989), the French Academy Award (1996), and the Sultan Al Owais Prize for Criticism and Literature Studies (2006).
Robyn Creswell is a consulting editor for poetry at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and is a former poetry editor of The Paris Review. He teaches Arabic literature at Yale University.
Marina Warner is a novelist and cultural historian. Her many books include From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers and Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media. She is professor of literature, film, and theatre studies at the University of Essex and lives in London.

Reviews

Reading Kilito for me has always been a kind of adventure. We normally speak of writing as an adventure, but Kilito dares his reader to travel with him, on a quest to override the boundaries between reality and fiction, between literary criticism and storytelling.--Elias Khoury
One would be hard-pressed to find a Moroccan writer who is more respected by his peers and more appreciated by his readers than Abdelfattah Kilito.--Laila Lalami
Yet his commentary on the age-old debate, though minimal and mostly contained in an afterword, reveals his personal connection to the subject as a writer in both French and Arabic, making the work both poignant and relevant for contemporary readers.
Abdelfattah Kilito turns his obsession with 'the fact of language' into a thrilling tour de force that invites us to rethink the myths of our human origins, leading us into a labyrinthine wonder world of linguistic inquiries.--Poupeh Missaghi
In this slim volume based on his lecture series, prominent Moroccan writer Kilito muses on the origins of multilingualism via an analysis of the historical debate about what language Adam and his family spoke. Citing an array of sources--medieval Arab theologians, the Hebrew Bible, Herodotus, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II--he opens up a new world for his reader, demonstrating the religious and philosophical urgency this question held for many through history and the many forms it has taken, including debates over whether poetry could be written by Adam and experiments with depriving children of language. Kilito treats his history with respect (especially considering the implications and controversial nature of the questions) and, with his blend of erudition and whimsy, comparisons to Borges are inevitable. Yet his commentary on the age-old debate, though minimal and mostly contained in an afterword, reveals his personal connection to the subject as a writer in both French and Arabic, making the work both poignant and relevant for contemporary readers. Fans of Kilito's work should be pleased here, and those who have never read him should be intrigued this introduction.
The abiding spirit is Borgesian, a lifelong curiosity about the nature of words and books and how texts call out to and comment on each other....As a scholar of classical Arabic literature, Kilito employs those texts to ask intriguing, vexing or playful questions about how words work.--Ron Slate
Borges's afterglow falls on Kilito's pages, and he shares the Argentinian's relish for puzzles, mazes, and riddling forms, as well as a love of pulp on one hand and the rare and raffiné on the other, al-Jahiz's philosophy of discretion alongside Tintin, Sufi metaphysical lyrics and the Queen of the Serpents' spells. Kilito is a mandarin who likes comic books.--Marina Warner
The Tongue of Adam is a quiet intellectual indictment of racial, ethnic, and national chauvinism, a text which derives an egalitarian beginning to language from the oldest of religious traditions. A brilliant and necessary book.--Mohamad Saleh