Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Fall Titles: the West and Islam

We’re happy to announce two new titles and one new Kindle edition for the Fall of 2014. All three titles offer interesting variations on the Western perceptions of Islam and the role of the Mediterranean as a bridge among the various cultures of the region. All three titles are available in hardcover, paperback and a variety of digital formats, including searchable PDF downloads and Kindle editions.

The first is Kiril Petkov’s edition and translation of The Deeds of Commander Pietro Mocenigo by Coriolano Cippico. From 1470 to 1474 Cippico served as galley captain in a Venetian naval expedition in the eastern Mediterranean under the command of the future doge of Venice, Pietro Mocenigo. He wrote The Deeds in 1474/75. In its three books he describes the exploits of the campaign as Mocenigo’s fleet engaged in a systematic depredation of the western Anatolian shoreline, helped suppress a political coup in Cyprus and seal the Venetian hold of the island, supported the Venetian diplomatic outreach to the lords of Karaman, the chief Ottoman adversaries in Anatolia, and provided crucial relief to the Venetian-held Albanian stronghold of Skodra (Scutari) besieged by Ottoman troops.

Composed in an elegant humanist Latin, The Deeds details a sophisticated eyewitness account of the Christian–Ottoman confrontation in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The brutality of war, the constant traffic in slaves and booty and the almost casual destruction of the ancient remains of Asia Minor form the backdrop to the expert diplomacy, crusade rhetoric, humanist discourse and the cultural claims of the Venetian Republic.

The present edition is the first translation of The Deeds into English and brings back to light one of the finest pieces of Renaissance history writing, often and widely reprinted and much appreciated in its time, but undeservedly forgotten until recently.

The second is Kevin R. Poole’s edition and translation of the Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin, Book IV of the Liber Sancti Jacobi (Codex Calixtinus). This key manuscript also contains the Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela, the Miracles of St. James and the Veneranda dies sermon (all previously published by Italica Press), a collection of liturgical texts and other sermons associated with the cathedral and its saint, and a series of letters surrounding the fate of the body of St. James and its burial in Spain.

The twelfth-century Chronicle, also known as the History of Charlemagne and Roland, offers an “eye-witness” account of events during the late eighth century. Charlemagne’s compatriot, Archbishop Turpin of Rheims, describes the miraculous appearance of Saint James to Charlemagne and the battles against the Muslims that he and Roland fought in Iberia as a result of this vision. The chronicle is one of the fundamental texts in the literary legend surrounding Charlemagne, Roland, Compostela and St. James. It served as source material for a large number of other chronicles as well as for French chansons de geste and other forms of heroic literature, including the Song of Roland (also in a new edition from Italica Press).

In this first modern English translation of the chronicle, Kevin Poole investigates the issues of fiction, legend and authorship and the relationship between the false chronicle and its wider literary tradition. 

The third new offering is the Kindle edition of Aiol: A Chanson de Geste. Like many other crusading and romance epics, Aiol artfully recreates both the Christian culture of the West and the Islamic culture of the Levant. Poets writing in medieval French created richly textured literary metaphors or fictions about both the Christian and Muslim worlds, and they were themselves well aware that even though they were treating historically-based materials, they were also fabricating fictions and fictive truths, tropes and figures as literary art. 

As with their Italica Press edition of Elye of Saint Gilles, Sandra C. Malicote and A. Richard Hartman have chosen simplicity and directness of approach. The translation remains faithful to the spirit and meaning of the Old French poem, creating a lively, interesting and engaging text that allows the reader to savor the rich intellectual and artistic context of the original.