RIP Jamal-Eddine Bencheikh

Amina Rachid writes an obit, focussing on Bencheikh’s new translation of A Thousand Nights and a Night:

A text that has been endlessly read and re- read, and one to be found on the bedside tables of both Proust and Borges, this book was a revelation for Bencheikh, since it signaled the revelation of another meaning to Arab culture and perhaps a truer one. Before the publication, in 1991, of the first edition of Bencheikh’s joint translation of the Thousand and One Nights, which he completed with André Miquel, Bencheikh published various critical studies of the text in which he brought out what for him was essential to it: namely, its subversive character and its way of getting around the law. Thus, in his book Les Mille et une nuits, ou la parole prisonnière (The Thousand and One Nights, or Imprisoned Speech), which appeared in 1988, after having analysed the various mechanisms employed in the work Bencheikh concluded that “this anonymous work….preserves the echo of a speech that has become a prisoner, a speech that is buried still deeper than desire and that is even more subversive than love. At the centre of civilisation appears this strange memory of another age.” In another work, this time produced in collaboration with Claude Brémond and André Miquel, entitled Les Mille et un contes de la nuit (The Thousand and One Tales of the Night) and appearing in 1991, Bencheikh analysed another aspect of the text: the connection between love and death.

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