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Maimonides' "Guide of the Perplexed" in TranslationA History from the Thirteenth Century to the Twentieth$
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Josef Stern, James T. Robinson, and Yonatan Shemesh

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226457635

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226627878.001.0001

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Michael Friedländer’s Pioneering English Translation of the Guide

Michael Friedländer’s Pioneering English Translation of the Guide

(p.209) 6 Michael Friedländer’s Pioneering English Translation of the Guide
Maimonides' "Guide of the Perplexed" in Translation

Warren Zev Harvey

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses Michael Friedländer’s (1833-1910) 1885 translation of the Guide of the Perplexed, the first English translation of the book. Friedländer was born in Jutrosin, Prussia; studied Rabbinics under Rabbis Jacob Joseph Oettinger and Elhanan Rosenstein; studied Classics, Oriental Languages, and Mathematics at the Universities of Berlin and Halle; and served as Principal of Jews’ College in London. His translation from the original Judeo-Arabic has often been criticized for being more of a paraphrase than a translation, but it would be more accurate to say that Friedländer had little patience for the niceties of metaphysics and preferred a clear and felicitous translation over a strictly literal and awkward one. As a result, his translation has the great virtue of accessibility to a wide and varied audience. The paper discusses a number of examples of his translation, compares them with other modern translations in English and Hebrew, and in a number of cases defends the superiority of Friedländer’s translation over rival translations.

Keywords:   Michael Friedländer, English translation, accessibility, Judeo-Arabic, Solomon Munk, accuracy

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