The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A review of Koranic Allusions 1.4-1.5

Here's Rudolf Geyer, on Power and Schulthess: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 21 (Vienna: 1907), 390f. Ibn Warraq readers know Geyer from his work on the strophic structure of (some suras in) the Qur'an. (And the readers of The Arabs and Their Qur'an know that the "Partial Developmental Sequence" pair depend heavily upon exactly that work by Geyer.) This pericope comes from a larger review of the Mélanges de la faculté orientale (of St. Joseph in Beirut) - that book in which Power's article (in reaction to Schulthess) first appeared. Geyer is writing in German of course.

Power had raised some counters to Schulthess's argument (the nature of which doesn't yet matter); here, Geyer supported Schulthess. In the course of this defence the man acted like a real, um, Wiener - if I'm translating this right:

To demand an equal impartiality of the religious history viewed from the young Jesuit priest in Beirut [Power] would be unfair, and we may therefore justly not reckon his remarks relating thereto (p. 207, lines 12-17) against those of the Göttingen professor [Schulthess].


POWER had prepared, as he says in the ‘Bulletin' of the [St. Joseph] faculty, such a collection of Umayya's poetry, but was dissuaded from publication by the appearance of SCHULTHESS's article [on their contents]; perhaps he has done well. It is easier to write an excellent essay about an ancient Arab poet than to organize an acceptable text publication or even translation of his works. I think here of betraying no secret when I say that we can expect from Prof. SCHULTHESS such a publication.

To do that pushmi-pullyu thing: 'Tis true that Power in 1906 (or 1912!) was not perfect. On topic of what I took from Power's 1912 article: this piece wholly missed Frank-Kamenetzky's rationale for deleting at least v. 13 from Nr. 41, which Noeldeke (in 1911) did not miss. Power 1912 also did not add much to Schulthess Nr. 38, and it was just wrong about Nr. 46. 'Tis also true that Schulthess's work is spectacular; and, I must add, sorely underrated by present Orientalists, especially by non-Germans. We now know that Geyer's 1907 conclusion is vindicated insofar as Schulthess would, in 1911, produce better work than Power would have produced.

But I think that Geyer crossed a line where he pulled rank, as guardian of the Deutschsprachprofessoriat against that upstart "young Jesuit padre". That young Jesuit lived in an Arabic-speaking country. That young Jesuit had defended his PhD thesis upon this very topic of Umayya's poetry - he could have been a don, if he'd wanted it.

UPDATE 12/18: scroll up. Schulthess produced a good edition of this diwân in good part because he paid attention to Power's advice. I only hope that Geyer had offered better advice elsewhere.

posted by Zimri on 17:40 | link | 0 comments

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