Publisher description for A crown for the king / Solomon ibn Gabirol ; translated by David R. Slavitt.
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Solomon ibn Gabirol (ca. 1021--ca. 1058) was the greatest of the Spanish Jewish poets and an important neoplatonist philosopher. Translated into Latin in the mid-twelfth century, his philosophical work became influential among scholars who were unaware that Avicebron (as his last name was
Latinized) was a Jew and a celebrated writer of religious hymns. The Royal Crown (or, "A Crown for the King" in Slavitt's translation) is the greatest of Gabirols poems. Bernard Lewis has called it one of the major works of Hebrew literature since the completion of the Old Testament. Its theme is
the problem of the human predicament: the frailty of man and his proclivity to sin, in tension with a benign providence that must leave room for the operation of man's free will and also make available to him the means of penitence. The Royal Crown is still printed in prayerbooks of the Sephardic
rite for the Day of Atonement, and among North African Jewish communities (and their offshoots in Israel and elsewhere) it is read communally before the morning service of the Day. In northern Europe and the West this custom has lapsed, however the Royal Crown is still used for private penitential
David Slavitts inspired translation of this classic poem into contemporary English--printed with the Hebrew text on facing pages--will make the Royal Crown newly available and accessible to students and scholars of medieval Jewish literature and philosophy and to the general public as well.
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