In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the March–April 2023 topic challenge.
Based on the number of votes (+6, -0), our 66th topic challenge will be
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan / Philosophus Autodidactus
What's a topic challenge?
See the meta posts linked above, and also this main Meta post. In short, during March and April 2023 you are invited to try to get hold of the book Hayy ibn Yaqdhan / Philosophus Autodidactus, read it, ask questions about it or answer questions about it.
Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during February and March too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.
How can I take part?
By getting hold of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan / Philosophus Autodidactus and
- asking good questions about it or
- answering questions that have been posted as part of this challenge or
- writing a review of the book on our Tumblr blog.
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan by the 12th-century Arab Andalusian Muslim polymath Ibn Tufail is described on Wikipedia as "the first philosophical novel". It tells the story of a little boy who grows up on a desert island, who is raised by a gazelle and "discovers ultimate truth through a systematic process of reasoned inquiry".
The novel is currently not well-known in the Western world but was a best-seller in Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It may have inspired Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719.
The Wikipedia article Hayy ibn Yaqdhan lists translations in English, German and Dutch; some of the English translations are available online. More recently, Jean-Baptiste Brenet published a French adaptation of the novel, Robinson de Guadix, which would also be part of the reading challenge. Other adaptations of the same novel would also be covered by this challenge.
At the time when I am posting this suggestion, we have not yet had a reading challenge involving works in Arabic and we have only 13 questions tagged arabic-literature. In addition, the fact that the work was once so influential makes it intriguing.
- Vote for the next topic challenge or propose your own!