Bewildered contains new translations by Michael A. Sells of Muhyiddin Ibn al-‘Arabī’s Tarjuman poems. Sells is also the translator of a highly praised volume of pre-Islamic qasidas, Desert Tracings, and Stations of Desire, which contains his first renderings of Ibn al-‘Arabī’s Tarjuman. In Bewildered, Sells carries into his translations the supple, resonant quality of the original Arabic, so that the poems come to life in modern poetic English.
Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi
Praise for Bewildered
Expert yet unaffected, [Michael Sell’s translations in Bewildered] capture the original Arabic even as they introduce a figure as eminent as Rumi who is little-known in the West. Furthermore, by revisiting past translations, Sells’s work confirms that literature is best rendered not in a single English version, but many.
— Kevin Blankinship, ArabLit Quarterly
Translation of Desires (Tarjumān al-ashwāq) is one of the world’s great works of mystical poetry. A cycle of 61 poems addressed to a beautiful but elusive beloved, it has been one the most widely-read works of the Andalusian mystic/philosopher, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165–1240). Even today, 800 years after its composition, its extraordinary imagery and sentiments continue to inspire artists and musicians not only within the Arab world, but also in the West, where it has become known largely through the early 20th century translation of R.A. Nicholson. This year has seen the publication of new translations of 46 poems, under the title Bewildered, by Michael Sells, The John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago, who has spent a lifetime on their study.
— Jane Clark and Cecilia Twinch, Beshara Magazine