Maria Rosa Menocal is R. Selden Rose Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and head of the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. She lives in New Haven, CT.
The eleventh-century Muslim world was a great civilization while Europe lay slumbering in the Dark Ages. Slowly, inevitably, Europe and Islam came together, through trade and war, crusade and diplomacy. The ebb and flow between these two worlds for seven hundred years, illuminated here by a brilliant historian, is one of the great sagas of world history.
Drawing on a very broad range of Soviet and Spanish primary sources, including many only recently available, Payne changes our understanding of Soviet and Communist intentions in Spain, of Stalin’s decision to intervene in the Spanish war, of the widely accepted characterization of the conflict as the struggle of fascism against democracy, and of the claim that Spain’s war constituted the opening round of World War II. The author arrives at a new view of the Spanish Civil War and concludes not only that the Democratic Republic had many undemocratic components but also that the position of the Communist party was by no means counterrevolutionary.
Menocal reviews the Arabic cultural presence in a variety of key settings, including the courts of William of Aquitaine and Frederick II, the universities in London, Paris, and Bologna, and Cluny under Peter the Venerable, and she examines how our perception of specific texts including the courtly love lyric and the works of Dante and Boccaccio would be altered by an acknowledgment of the Arabic cultural component.