“Arabic is an immense language, by its richness, its beauty and its history”, declares the winner of the Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor Prize 2022

"Arabic is an immense language, by its richness, its beauty and its history", declares the winner of the Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor Prize 2022

The 2022 Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor Prize has been awarded to the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Brenet for his translation from medieval Arabic into French of the work of the philosopher Averroès (Ibn Rochd) “The intellect – Compendium of the book De l’âme” , published by Vrin editions (France, 2022).

The winner of this fifteenth edition of the Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor Prize was announced on the occasion of the XVIII Francophonie Summit organized on November 19 and 20 on the island of Djerba, in Tunisia.

Endowed with 10,000 euros (€), the Prize will be awarded to him on December 12, 2022 at the headquarters of the OIF in Paris (France).

Jean-Baptiste Brenet thus succeeds his compatriot Richard Jacquemond, winner of the 2021 edition for his translation from Arabic into French of the book “Sur les traces d’Enayat Zayyat” by the Egyptian Iman Mersal (Actes Sud , 2021, Paris).

This annual distinction, which aims to promote cultural and linguistic diversity and encourages all forms of cultural exchange between the Arab world and the French-speaking world, is awarded by the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science (ALECSO).

In an interview published on the OIF’s page on social networks, Jean-Baptiste Brenet said that this prize means a lot to him “because it is a translation prize and translation is essential in my eyes”, insisting on the crucial role of “translation as decompartmentalization, openness, pooling and communication”.

“Arabic is an immense language, by its richness, its beauty and its history”, estimated this great specialist in the work of Averroes, a Muslim scholar of the Andalusian era. “Arabic is a language of philosophy, he said, and the translated work is ‘a difficult technical and philosophical text’.

He asserted that “French inherited it lexically and intellectually… French, which proceeded largely from Latin, comes from what Arabic thought will have provided in the so-called medieval period. Without this ferment of Arab thought, Latin Western Europe and French culture would not have taken on the face it has taken on”.

Regarding his choice to translate Averroes, he described him as “an Arab thinker who is a figure of world thought”. He recalled his real name, Ibn Rochd, saying that he is an heir to the Arab tradition but also a character who is at the crossroads of several cultures: Arab culture, Hebrew culture and Latin culture”.

“Without him (Averroes), Europe would not have had the culture it had because a large part of his translated works in medieval times made him the commentator of Aristotle par excellence, as we calls him. All the Latins, whether or not they were his adversaries, read him and benefited from his work as an exegete”.

The author says he was seduced by the question of humanism in general, and Arab humanism, in particular, the one conveyed by Ibn Rochd’s text.

For the jury, the work of Jean-Baptiste Brenet: “is the subject of a great mastery of the work – a text that is moreover very little known to the public, even philosophical”, we read in the press release published on the OIF website.

This text brings together “philosophical knowledge, philological erudition, the refined art of translation and allows the French-speaking reader to be transmitted an important page in the history of Arab philosophy”. Jean-Baptiste Brenet inscribes his work in “Europe’s forgotten heritage”. It thus allows Arab thought to be better known and to attract “new audiences”.

The jury for this edition, the same as that of 2021, is made up of Bassam Baraké, Zahida Darwiche-Jabbour (Lebanon), Fayza El Qasem (France), Hana Subhi (France and Iraq) and Mohammed Mahjoub (Tunisia).

“AVERROES (IBN RU?D) The Intellect Compendium of the Book Of the Soul” is a 320-page opus published in June 2022. ” Compendium of the Book of the Soul of Aristotle (Muûtaar Kitaâb al-nafs) counts among the first exegetical works of Averroes. We translate here the chapter on the intellect which contains the essential questions to which the Commentator will return throughout his work. What occupies him is to establish whether the act of the human intellect is permanent or intermittent, and more broadly to know whether our rational power is itself eternal or engendered and corruptible “, can we read in the author’s presentation.

Born in 1972 in Marseille, Jean-Baptiste Brenet is a professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne where he teaches Arab philosophy. Translator from Arabic and Latin, he is – in addition to his academic work – the author of several essays which combine medieval thought and modern philosophy. Averroès is at the center of several of his old works including “Transfers of the subject. The noetics of Averroes according to Jean de Jandun” (2003), “The possibilities of junction. Averroès-Thomas Wylton” (2013), “Averroès the disturbing” (2015), “I fantasize. Averroès and potential space, Lagrasse” (2017).

Created in 2007, under the name Prize for translation in the human sciences Ibn Khaldoun and Léopold Sédar Senghor, from French to Arabic and from Arabic to French, this prize was baptized in 2018, Prize for literary translation and in human and social sciences Ibn Khaldoun and Léopold Sédar Senghor.

It consists of a diploma signed by the Secretary General of La Francophonie and by the Director General of ALECSO, a scholarship in the amount of 10,000 Euros and the promotion of the prize-winning translation and its translator up to publication. following the Prize.

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