We note with sadness that Humphrey Davies passed away this weekend. He was a gifted translator who had translated more than twenty-five works of Arabic literature. He contributed ten volumes of translations to the Library of Arabic Literature series, of works spanning the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries:
- Leg over Leg by Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq (four volumes)
- Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abū Shādūf Expounded by Yūsuf al-Shirbīnī (two volumes)
- Risible Rhymes by Muḥammad ibn Maḥfūẓ al-Sanhūrī
- In Darfur: An Account of the Sultanate and Its People by Muḥammad al-Tūnisī (two volumes)
- The Book of Charlatans by Jamāl al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥīm al-Jawbarī
Leg over Leg was the first translation that garnered widespread attention for the Library of Arabic Literature series: it received reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Times Literary Supplement, among other outlets, and was longlisted for the 2014 Best Translated Book Award. Many interviews with him about his work for LAL appear on this blog, including, most recently, “Humphrey Davies and the ‘Tabloid Touch’ Demanded by Translating a 13th-century Charlatan.” The ArabLit article “Celebrating Humphrey: 10 Translations, 11 Interviews” features several more. This week, ArabLit will be opening up a digital memorial space for people to share remembrances, so keep an eye on the ArabLit website for more.
We are forever grateful to Humphrey Davies for his immeasurable contributions to the Library of Arabic Literature. He will be sorely missed.