The 13th century Sufi mystic
Jalal al-Din Rumi was a storyteller who spoke like a songwriter--in metered
prose and rhyming verse. Whatever the translation (and there have been many),
his words always seem to fall like lilting petals, drifting in a delicate
pattern toward some grounded truth. This sensually illustrated version offers
yet another new translation in which readers will find a mixture of Rumi's
parables and poetry interwoven into each story. Thus, readers will start off
firmly planted in Rumi's straightforward, storytelling voice. Then, about four
paragraphs down, the translators will insert one of his ecstatic poems, then the
tone will return to the story voice. It may seem like choppy editing, but it
actually swirls and circles around like a joyful Sufi dancer. The chosen tales
are all spiritually inspirational, as Rumi always is, yet they are also a
pleasure to read as simple stories told by a master. The illustrations and
attentive design artfully enhance the grace and fluidity of Rumi's words.
after his death, Jalal al-Din Rumi is enjoying a heck of a comeback. The poet
laureate of Sufism, Rumi's innovations proved so fundamental that his style and
language continue to be imitated throughout the Islamic world. And he has been
cited as a great mystic by no less an authority than Mike D of the Beastie Boys.
Far beyond what the quotable snippets of his poetry in self-help tomes and love
anthologies indicate, he was a magnificent poet, acclaimed by kings and
vagabonds alike in his lifetime. Although there is little new insight in Wines'
Spiritual Biography , and it lacks the depth of Annemarie Schimmel's 1992
effort, her vivid, well-researched portrait of the poet is the first life of
Rumi in English that is intended for the general readership Rumi cared most to
have. In particular, she breathes life into one of the great Platonic love
stories of all time, that of Rumi and his muse Shams, an old and dirty dervish.
John Green. Copyright © American Library Association.