chapter  8
14 Pages

Rita Dove’s Sonata Mulattica: A Transatlantic Genre for the Restoration of History


The history of Al-Andalus opened with the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and was followed by a progression of Arab and Berber dynasties that lasted for over 800 years, before the fall of the last Muslim city of Granada in 1492. This Arabo-Muslim 'golden age' was characterized by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures in dialogue, a 'interfaith Utopia', as scholar and translator of Arabic literature William Granara has termed it. This rare cultural syncretism produced a sustained flowering of culture and learning and evolved within the greater Islamic empire's model of civic and political tolerance. In 1992, coinciding with the 500-year anniversary of the Reconquest in Spain, and several important works of history were published in both Europe and the United States. The Arab tradition of Al-Andalus is thus perceived in the West as a simple nostalgic longing for a past time of greatness in a people now reduced to second-rate status in the modern global system.