Sahar Amer, CROSSING BORDERS: LOVE BETWEEN WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL FRENCH AND ARABIC LITERATURES


Sahar Amer, Crossing Borders: Love Between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2008.

This is an interesting, illuminating analysis of literary connections between medieval French and Arabic literature in the area of love between women. Amer’s arguments for reading the presence of silent “lesbian” or “lesbian-like” relations in some medieval French poetry are not always convincing, but her arguments about the limited nature of only seeing intertextuality in direct textual influence are persuasive. Too, this is perhaps the first book I have read that incorporates an accessible English-language introductory summary of same-sex and particularly lesbian love in medieval Arabic literature. All of this makes it an engaging book to read: and Amer has a very readable style.

I’ve added several titles to my list of “medieval Arabic texts in translation I want to read,” even if some of them are in French. (Perhaps one day I’ll have the leisure to learn classical Arabic. One lives in hope.)