Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri

(1279 - 1333)

The Egyptian-born civil servant of the Mamluk Empire Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri retired around 1314 to spend the last two decades of his life working on his nine-thousand-page encyclopedia, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition, writing that he had “mounted the stallion of reading.” Elias Muhanna, the scholar who translated an abridgment into English published in 2016, wondered how to thank his family for their support of the undertaking but felt “the Ultimate Ambition’s chapter on the expression of gratitude does not contain a rhetorical formula that is up to this challenge.”

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