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Leibniz Prize for Project on ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah’

Leibniz Prize for Project on ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah’Leibniz Prize for Project on ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah’

Arabic studies scholar Beatrice Grundler from Germany has been announced as one of the winners of the 2017 Leibniz Prize by the German Research Foundation (abbreviated as DFG in German) for her project on the famous collection of ancient fables ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah’.

A professor at Free University of Berlin, she has been selected from among 134 nominees as one of the ten figures to receive Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most important research award in Germany, DFG website reported.

The prize is awarded “to exceptional scientists and academics for their outstanding achievements in the field of research.”

In a project for a critical, annotated digital edition of ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah’, Grundler, 52, has unraveled the history of the text, development and impact of this collection of fables, considered one of the earliest Arabic prose works and a central text of Arabic literature.

The original ‘Kalile and Demni’, or Panchatantra (‘Five Principles’) is an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in verse and prose, arranged within a frame story (a literary technique that serves as a companion piece to a story within a story).

The original work in Sanskrit was believed to be composed around the 3rd century BC. It is based on older oral traditions, including animal fables that are as old as one can imagine.

In India, it had at least 25 revised editions. It was first translated into Middle Persian during the Sassanid era in 570 CE. It became the basis for a Syriac translation as ‘Kalilag and Damnag’ and a translation into Arabic in 750 CE by Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa as ‘Kalilah wa Dimnah.’ The Arabic version was translated into several languages, including Greek, Persian and Spanish. So far, it has been translated in over 50 languages.

The book has been published in Iran several times by various publishers. Two years ago, a 4-volume collection of its stories rewritten for children by Iranian author Mehdi Kamoos was published for the first time in Algeria, in two versions, Persian for Iranian and Arabic for Algerian readership.

Grundler will receive her award at a ceremony slated for March 15 in Berlin, Germany.

 

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