What We Are Reading Today: Aristotle: His Life and School  

Updated 04 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Aristotle: His Life and School  

AUTHOR: Carlo Natali, Edited by D. S. Hutchinson

 

This definitive biography shows that Aristotle’s philosophy is best understood on the basis of a firm knowledge of his life and of the school he founded.

First published in Italian, and now translated, updated, and expanded for English readers, this concise chronological narrative is the most authoritative account of Aristotle’s life and his Lyceum available in any language. Gathering, distilling, and analyzing all the evidence and previous scholarship, Carlo Natali, one of the world’s leading Aristotle scholars, provides a masterful synthesis that is accessible to students yet filled with evidence and original interpretations that specialists will find informative and provocative.

Cutting through the controversy and confusion that have surrounded Aristotle’s biography, Natali tells the story of Aristotle’s eventful life and sheds new light on his role in the foundation of the Lyceum. Natali offers the most detailed and persuasive argument yet for the view that the school, an important institution of higher learning and scientific research, was designed to foster a new intellectual way of life among Aristotle’s followers, helping them fulfill an aristocratic ideal of the best way to use the leisure they enjoyed.

Drawing a wealth of connections between Aristotle’s life and thinking, Natali demonstrates how the two are mutually illuminating.

For this edition, ancient texts have been freshly translated on the basis of the most recent critical editions; indexes have been added, including a comprehensive index of sources and an index to previous scholarship; and scholarship that has appeared since the book’s original publication has been incorporated.


Get hooked on traditional Palestinian embroidery

Updated 20 September 2018
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Get hooked on traditional Palestinian embroidery

  • Joanna Barakat gives workshops on Palestinian embroidery
  • She talks about the significance and history of the craft

DUBAI: I just finished cross-stitching my first Gaza cypress tree motif, begun around the kitchen table of the UAE-based artist Joanna Barakat, who gives workshops on Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez. Next up: Motifs from Hebron, Ramallah and Jaffa.

Until I took her class, which she’ll be teaching at Tashkeel in Dubai next weekend, I hadn’t paid much attention to the stitches that adorn the region’s fabrics. Now, I read them like signposts for clues as to where they’re from.

Barakat, who was born in Jerusalem, begins with a talk on the history of tatreez, showing us photos from different regions before 1948 and passing around examples of her grandmother’s work.

We learn how embroidery was more elaborate for weddings, how women incorporated their environment in their work — Jaffa, for instance, has an orange motif — and how it reflected their status. Bedouin women stitched a blue hem on their dresses, adding red motifs if they remarried. “Each tribe had its own style and its own way of dressing to express their identity,” Barakat says.

The Nakba in 1948 almost killed off the tradition, as women lost access to the region’s textile factories. “Everybody was traumatized,” she says. “You had a good decade there where almost nothing came out.”

But their resilience resurfaced in their craft, earning them a living in refugee camps. “It became a symbol of resistance and empowerment.”

In that way, Barakat uses embroidery in her paintings: in one self-portrait, a needle punctures her chest on the canvas, “trying to stitch my own Palestinian identity into me,” she explains.

Her workshop may have stitched some of that into me as well. After giving us our own cross-stitch kits, with Aida fabric, green threads and cypress tree patterns, she shows us how to stitch, correcting us patiently as we go. As they might say in crochet class, I’m hooked.



Joanna Barakat’s workshops on Palestinian embroidery are at Tashkeel in Dubai on Sept. 29 and Dec. 8 for $73, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with a one-hour break, lunch included. Email [email protected] for more information.