Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page xlviii  

xlviii                               PREFA CE.

In 1885-86 the edition of the Arabic original was
printed. At the same time I translated the whole book
a second time, into English, finishing the translation of
every single sheet as the original was carried through
the press.

In 1887 and the first half of 1888 the English trans¬
lation, with annotations and indices, was printed.

My work during all these years was not uninter¬

Translating an Arabic book, written in the style of
Alberuni, into English, is, for a person to whom English
is not his mother-tongue, an act of temerity, which,
when I was called upon to commit it, gravely affected
my conscience to such a degree that I began to falter,
and seriously thought of giving up the whole thing alto¬
gether. But then there rose up before " my mind's
eye " the venerable figure of old MacGuckin de Slane,
and as he had been gathered to his fathers, I could not
get back the word I had given him. Cf preface to the
edition of the Arabic text, p. viii. Assuredly, to do
justice to the words of Alberuni would require a com¬
mand over English like that of Sir Theodore Martin,
the translator of " Faust," or Chenery, the translator of

As regards my own translation, I can only say IJiave
tried to find common sense in the author's language,
and to render it as clearly as I could. In this I was
greatly assisted by my friend the Eev. Eobert Gwynne,
Vicar of St. Mary's, Soho, London, whose training in
Eastern languages and literature qualified him to co¬
operate in revising the entire manuscript and correcting
the proof sheets.

Perhaps it will not be superfluous to point out to the
reader who does not know Arabic that this language
sometimes exhibits sentences perfectly clear as to the
meaning of every single word and the syntactic construc¬
tion, and nevertheless admitting of entirely different
  Page xlviii