A Saxon Arabist's scholarly hoax

Abu-’l Harr al-Mumallih (Pseudo-) / Gliemann, Wilhelm. Viro pietate doctrina humanitate excellentissimo Christiano Wolterstorff kallikrenaioi [...] Praemissum est Abu’l Charri’l Momallechi ad Abu’l Melchum sapientem carmen arabicum ex duobus codd. mscr. nunc primum editum latine et vernacule conversum adnotationibus criticis et exegeticis instructum.

Halle, (Karl August Schwetschke), Gebauer (for the author), 1828.

4to. XII, 23, (5) pp. Arabic letterpress text within red ornamental borders. Contemporary papered spine.


Only edition; exceedingly rare.

At first glance, the editio princeps of an ancient Arabic encomium based on two manuscript sources, accompanied by copious notes on the text as well as by German and Latin versions, and published on the occasion of the 50th teaching anniversary of Christian Woltersdorf, the director of the Salzwedel grammar school, by Friedrich Wilhelm Gliemann (1792-1864), teacher at the school. The few holding libraries unanimously cite the author as "Abu-’l Harr al-Mumallih", a poet entirely unknown to oriental literary history. Contemporary reviewers were quick to point out that the publication is, in fact, an elaborate hoax as scholarly as it is witty: "Indeed, the poem constitutes a cento assembled by Mr. Gliemann, in the main based on several poems of the Hamasah genre and on the encomium of Safieddin, edited by Bernstein [in 1816]. Yet the feat of properly conjoining these various pieces to form a whole, in a single, pure and correct metre, reveals no mean knowledge of Arabic. Several of the verses are of Mr. Gliemann's own invention. And so it is evident that the purported editor is none other than Abu’l Charr himself (the 'father of the embers', a pun on the name, 'Glühmann'), and that the variant readings of the second MS are nothing but different readings of the various passages of the original" (cf. Ergänzungsblätter zur A.L.Z. [1829], col. 263f.).

Printed on fine, crisp writing paper with tree watermark. Slight corner flaws to Latin and Arabic title-pages, otherwise a clean and wide-margined copy. Only four copies known in institutional possession (Halle, Leipzig, Göttingen, Greifswald). A rare and highly original piece of Arabic scholarship.

OCLC 257626548.