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The "Commentary" That Saved the Text. The Hazardous Journey of Ibn al-Haytham's Arabic Optics

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The "Text" and the "Commentary" mentioned in the title of this essay are, respectively, the Kitāb al-Manāzir, or Optics, of al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, composed in the first half of the fifth/eleventh century, and the Tanqīh al-Manāzir li-dhawī l-absār wa l-basā'ir, written by Abū l-Hasan (or al-Hasan) Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī in the second half of the seventh/thirteenth century. It is known that, so far, only the first five of the seven maqālāt /Books that make up the Arabic text of IH's Optics have been published, and that the Tanqīh was published in two volumes. I shall be concerned with certain episodes in the lives of these two works, my aim being to shed light on their transmission within the Islamic Arabic and Persian worlds.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University


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