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Science and Poetry in Medieval Persia - The Botany of Nizami's Khamsa

The Department of Middle Eastern Studies is proud to announce the publication of
Dr Christine van Ruymbeke's new book:

"The first comprehensive study of Nizami's use of botanical imagery."

Nizami Ganjavi is one of the foremost figures in Persian poetry, living in Azerbaijan in the second half of the twelfth century. One of the oldest Western poets in Persian literature, he is acclaimed for his five masnavis which are assembled to form the Khamsa (Quintet). This study proposes a better understanding of nature imagery in the work of a seminal Persian poet, and provides a useful insight into the breadth and depth of the education of medieval poets and their readers.

The book is published in the series of University of Cambridge Oriental Publications (No. 65)


Khirbet Khizeh

S. Yizhar (translated by Nicholas de Lange & Yaacob Dweck)

This classic 1949 novella about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army has long been considered a high point in Hebrew literature, and it has also given rise to fierce controversy over the years. Published just months after the end of the 1948 war (in which the author himself served as an intelligence officer) the book was an immediate sensation when it first appeared: the military censor tried to ban it, thousands of Israeli Jews rushed to read it, and a Palestinian journalist in Nablus described it as a sign that the Israeli army had a conscience and that peace was possible.

Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Cambridge, writes: "Khirbet Khizeh is recognised as one of the key texts of Israeli literature, because of it content -- the difficult questions it raises about the Zionist enterprise, about Israeli--Arab relations, and about social morality -- but also because of its literary qualities. If it was the former that made it imperative to translate the story, it was the latter that made the task of translation a real challenge. Ostensibly a straightforward narrative about a group of people facing an exceptional moral dilemma, on the literary level Yizhar's story is a triumph of literary Modernism, involving subtle wordplay and assonance, oblique description, interior monologue and a tapestry of biblical allusions, that all place constant obstacles in the way of the translator. Yaacob Dweck and I have done our best to find a suitable contemporary English idiom -- whether or not we have succeeded you must read the story to discover!"

Further Details


shanama studies

Shahnama Studies I

Edited by Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, this volume brings together 15 essays organised around two main themes: (1) Episodes in the Shahnama and (2) Manuscript studies, together with an introduction by the editor.

The authors address several topics within these two broad divisions, such as the illustration of the Shahnama and the relationships between text and image, and the role of the Shahnama in Iranian culture and political ideology.

The volume contains 300 pages and over 80 illustrations, mainly in colour. Published by the University of Cambridge Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (CMEIS), copies may be ordered directly from the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies.


Cambridge Intermediate Japanese

Haruko Laurie with Richard Bowring

The sequel to the same authors' Introduction to Modern Japanese (CUP, 1992)

This book is designed for students who have already completed a full one-year intensive course in Japanese and who wish to take their studies further. It therefore assumes a good grasp of basic grammar, knowledge of about 900 kanji, and a vocabulary of some 2000 words.

It makes particular reference to the grammar as explained in R. Bowring and H. Laurie, An Introduction to Modern Japanese (Cambridge University Press, 1992), to which it forms the sequel, but it should prove useful to anyone who has already made reasonable progress in learning this difficult language.


Images of Persia

James Bamberg and Charles Melville
Photographs by Laurence Lockhart 1920s-1950s

This book presents 77 of Lockhart's photographs together with an introductory essay (given in both English and Persian) by the compilers. It is published by the Cambridge University Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and may be purchased directly from the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies.

This book was inspired by the desire to share with a wider audience the vivid pictorial record of Persia (Iran) that was created by Laurence Lockhart (1890-1975). Best known for his scholarly works on Persian history, Lockhart travelled extensively in Iran, witnessing the rapid changes that were taking place over the half century from the 1920s to the 1970s. He took many photographs of high quality, capturing many aspects of Persian life and culture, but he published only a very few of them, preferring, apparently, to communicate his enthusiasm and deep interest in the country through the written word.

Fortunately, however, Lockhart left his photograph albums and negatives, as well as a small personal archive, to the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. These, together with papers in the archive of his employer, the oil company BP, form the previously untapped primary sources for the essay on Lockhart and the selection of his photographs that are published here for the first time.


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Oriental Publications published for the Faculty by CUP

University of Cambridge Oriental Publications have been produced by the Cambridge University Press for the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies since 1950 and the series now extends to more than sixty titles. The most recent titles were published in 2010.

Titles still in print can be purchased from booksellers or directly from Cambridge University Press at:

1. Averroes' commentary on Plato's republic, edited and translated by E. I. J. Rosenthal

2. FitzGerald's 'Salaman and Absal', edited by A. J. Arberry

3. Ihara Saikaku: the Japanese family storehouse, translated and edited by G. W. Sargent

4. The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, edited and translated by Ilya Gershevitch

5. The Fusul al-Madani of al-Farabi, edited by D. M. Dunlop

6. Dun Karm, poet of Malta, texts chosen and translated by A. J. Arberry ; introduction, notes and glossary by P. Grech

7. The political writings of Ogyu Sorai, by J. R. McEwan

8. Financial administration under the T'ang dynasty, by D.C. Twitchett

9. Neolithic cattle-keepers of south India: a study of the Deccan Ashmounds, by F. R. Allchin

10. The Japanese enlightenment: a study of the writings of Fukuzawa Yukichi, by Carmen Blacker

11. Records of Han administration, Vol. I. Historical assessment, by M. Loewe

12. Records of Han administration, Vol. II. Documents, by M. Loewe

13. The language of Indrajit of Orcha: a study of early Braj Bhasa prose, by R. S. McGregor

14. Japan's first general election, 1890, by R. H. P. Mason

15. A collection of tales from Uji: a study and translation of 'Uji Shui Monogatari', by D. E. Mills

16. Studia Semitica, Vol I. Jewish themes, by E. I. J. Rosenthal

17. Studia Semitica, Vol. II. Islamic themes, by E. I. J. Rosenthal

18. A Nestorian collection of Christological texts, Vol. I. Syriac text, by Luise Abramowski and Alan E. Goodman

19. A Nestorian collection of Christological texts, Vol. II. Introduction, translation, indexes, by Luise Abramowski and Alan E. Goodman

20. The Syriac version of the Pseudo-Nonnos mythological scholia, by Sebastian Brock

21. Water rights and irrigation practices in Lajh, by A. M. A. Maktari

22. The commentary of Rabbi David Kimhi on Psalms cxx-cl, edited and translated by Joshua Baker and Ernest W. Nicholson

23. Jalal al-din al-Suyuti, Vol. I. Biography and background, by E. M. Sartain

24. Jalal al-din al-Suyuti, Vol. II. 'Al Tahadd bini'mat allah', Arabic text, by E. M. Sartain

25. Origen and the Jews: studies in Jewish-Christian relations in third-century Palestine, by N. R. M. de Lange

26. The 'Visaladevarasa': a restoration of the text, by John D. Smith

27. Shabbethai Sofer and his prayer-book, by Stefan C. Reif

28. Mori Ogai and the modernization of Japanese culture, by Richard John Bowring

29. The rebel lands: an investigation into the origins of early Mesopotamian mythology, byJ.V. Kinnier Wilson

30. Saladin: the politics of the holy war, by Malcolm C. Lyons and David Jackson

31. Khotanese Buddhist texts (revised edition), edited by H. W. Bailey

32. Interpreting the Hebrew Bible: essays in honour of E. I. J. Rosenthal, edited by J. A. Emerton and Stefan C. Reif

33. The traditional interpretation of the Apocalypse of St John in the Ethiopian orthodox church, by Roger W. Cowley

34. South Asian archaeology 1981: proceedings of the sixth international conference of South Asian archaeologists in western Europe, edited by Bridget Allchin (with assistance from Raymond Allchin and Miriam Sidell)

35. God's conflict with the dragon and the sea. Echoes of a Canaanite myth in the Old Testament, by John Day

36. Land and Sovereignty in India. Agrarian society and politics under the eighteenth-century Maratha Svarajya, by Andre Wink

37. God's caliph: religious authority in the first centuries of Islam, by Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds

38. Ethiopian Biblical interpretation: a study in exegetical tradition and hermeneutics, by Roger W. Cowley

39. Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier: the early history of Tur 'Abdin, by Andrew Palmer

40. Early Japanese books in Cambridge University Library: a catalogue of the Aston, Satow and Von Siebold collections, by Nozomu Hayashi and Peter Kornicki

41. Molech: a god of human sacrifice in the Old Testament, by John Day

42. Arabian studies, edited by R. B. Serjeant and R. L. Bidwell

43. Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy: the ethnohistory of the military labour market in Hindustan, 1450-1850, by Dirk H. A. Kolff

44. The epic of Pabuji: a study, transcription and translation, by John D. Smith

45. Anti-Christian polemic in early Islam: Abu 'Isa al-Warraq's 'Against the Trinity', by David Thomas

46. Devotional literature in South Asia: current research, 1985-8. Papers of the fourth conference on devotional literature in new Indo-Aryan languages, edited by R. S. McGregor

47. Genizah research after ninety years: the case of Judeao-Arabic. Papers read at the third congress of the Society for Judeo-Arabic Studies, edited by Joshua Blau and Stefan C. Reif

48. Divination, mythology and monarchy in Han China, by Michael Loewe

49. The Arabian epic: heroic and oral storytelling, volumes I-III, by M. C. Lyons

50. Religion in Japan: arrows to heaven and earth, edited by P. F. Kornicki and I. J. McMullen

51. Kingship and political practice in colonial Indian, by Pamela Price

52. Hebrew manuscripts at Cambridge University Library: a description and introduction,by Stefan C. Reif

53. Selected letters of Rabindranath Tagore,edited by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson

54. State and court ritual in China,edited by Joseph P. McDermott

55. Indian semantic analysis. The nirvacana tradition by Eivind Kahrs

56. The Syriac version of the Old Testament by M. P. Weitzman

57. The cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah by Judith M. Hadley

58. The transformation of nomadic society in the Arab East edited by Martha Mundy and Basim Musallam

59. Early Muslim polemic against Christianity; Abu 'Isa al-Warraq's 'Against the Incarnation' by David Thomas

60. Seeking Bauls of Bengal by Jeanne Openshaw

61. State and Locality in Mughal India: Power Relations in Western India c.1572-1730 by Farhat Hasan

62. Love in South Asia - A Cultural History edited by Francesca Orsini

63. Sorrow and Joy Among Muslim Women - The Pukhtuns of Northern Pakistan by Amineh Ahmed

64. The God of Israel - Studies of an Inimitable Deity edited by Robert P. Gordon

65. Science and Poetry in Medieval Persia - The Botany of Nizami's Khamsa by Christine van Ruymbeke

66. Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka - Portuguese Imperialism in a Buddhist Land by Alan Strathern

67. China's Early Empires - A Re-appraisal Edited by Michael Nylan, Michael Loewe

68. Pulse Diagnosis in Early Chinese Medicine - The Telling Touch by Elisabeth Hsu

For further details, and to buy online, see the series listing on the Cambridge University Press web site at:

Ordering Publications from the Faculty

To purchase items published by the Faculty itself, rather than the University Press, there is no order form as such. Please e-mail Faculty Publications to get a quote that includes shipping costs. Please be sure to specify hard cover or paperback. Then write with a cheque made out to "University of Cambridge" (Sterling, Euros or US dollars are welcome) to:

Faculty Publications
Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DA
United Kingdom







Please note that the Faculty cannot accept credit cards.

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