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The Ocean of the Soul

Men, the World and God in the Stories of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār



Edited by Bernd Radtke

The Ocean of the Soul is one of the great works of the German Orientalist Hellmut Ritter (1892-1971). It presents a comprehensive analysis of the writings of the mystical Persian poet Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār who is thought to have died at an advanced age in April 1221 when the Mongols destroyed his home city of Nīshāpūr in the north-east of Iran. The book, which resulted from decades of investigation of literary and historical sources, was first published in 1955 and has since remained unsurpassed not only as the definitive study of ‘Aṭṭār's world of ideas but as an indispensable guide to understanding pre-modern Islamic literature in general.
Quoting at length from ‘Aṭṭār and other Islamic sources, Ritter sketches an extraordinarily vivid portrait of the Islamic attitude toward life, characteristic developments in pious and ascetic circles, and, in conclusion, various dominant mystical currents of thought and feeling.
Special attention is given to a wide range of views on love, love in all its manifestations, including homosexuality and the commonplace sūfī adoration of good-looking youths. Ritter's approach is throughout based onprecise philological interpretation of primary sources, several of which he has himself made available in critical editions.

This book is also available as paperback.