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Eric Ormsby



Curriculum Vitae


Personal Information


Business Address:                            Home:

Eric Ormsby                            22 Belsize Park Gardens, Flat 2

Professor and Senior Research Associate                            London, England NW3 4LH

Institute of Ismaili Studies                            (0)20 7722 2577

210 Euston Road                                                                                                  e-mail:  eThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m

London  NW1 2DA

(0)20 7756 2745

e-mail :  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Born 16 October 1941, Atlanta, Georgia

American and Canadian citizenship






BA              1971 (Oriental Studies)                           University of Pennsylvania

MA              1973 (Near Eastern Studies)                          Princeton University

MLS              1978 (Library Science)                        Rutgers University

PhD              1981 (Near Eastern Studies)                           Princeton University


Additional Education:


Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Institut de Linguistique et de Phonétique, Paris,

Certificate (Summer 1995)


Université de Montréal, Communication écrite,  Summer 1994.


University of Tübingen, West Germany, 1973-74 (Classical Arabic; German)


Columbia University, New York, NY, 1959-60 (Greek and Latin)


Positions Held:


McGill University.  Director of Libraries, 1986-1996.  Institute of Islamic Studies,

Associate Professor, 1986-1996.  Full Professor, 1996--2005.  Director, 2004--2005.


The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, Director of Libraries, 1983-86.


Princeton University.  Curator, Near East Collections, 1977-83.  Lecturer, Near Eastern

Studies Department, 1981, 1983.  Near East Bibliographer, 1975-77.


Academic Honours:


BA summa cum laude, with distinction in the major, 1971.

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) fellowship, Tübingen, 1973-74.

Title VI Fellowships:  Columbia University; Princeton University.

Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship in Science and Religion, Cambridge University,

July-August 2006.

Eric Ormsby

                        Curriculum Vitae


Scholarly Books and Articles:



Jāme al-¤ekmatayn and “Zād al-Mosāferin in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (in press).


Ab‰ ¤āmid al-GhazālīThe Book of Love, Longing, Intimacy and Satisfaction (Kitāb al-ma^abba wa’l-shawq wa’l-uns wa’l-ri\ā, Book 36 of The Revival of the Islamic Sciences [I^yā’ ‘ul‰m al-dīn], translated with an introduction and notes by Eric Ormsby (Cambridge, England:  Islamic Texts Society, 2011).


|ir-i Khosraw:  Jāmi‛ al-¤ikmatayn:  Twin Wisdoms ReconciledTranslated from the Persian, with introduction and notes, by Eric Ormsby.  (London:  Institute of Ismaili Studies, forthcoming 2012).


J. W. von Goethe:  Notes and Essays on the West-Eastern DivanTranslated from the German.  (Jerusalem:  Ibis Editions, in press).



“Islamic Theology,” in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy,

ed. by Jay L. Garfield  (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 426-440.


“Literature,” in A Companion to Muslim Ethics, ed. by Amyn B. Sajoo (London:

I.B. Tauris; Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2010).  Overview of Islamic belles-lettres on ethics.


“Two Epistles of Consolation:  Al-Shahîd al-Thânî and Said Nursi on Theodicy,” in Theodicy and Justice in Modern Islamic Thought:  the Case of Said Nursi, ed. by Ibrahim Abu-Rabi (Farnham:  Ashgate, 2010), pp. 147-158.


“The Three Faces of Satan in Islam,” in Deliver Us from Evil:  Essays on the

Worst of Problems, ed. by M. David Eckel and Bradley L. Herling (South BendUniversity of Notre Dame Press, 2009), pp. 28-43.  [Boston University Studies in Philosophy of Religion, 37]


Abū Nuw¥sMan^ūka,” in Al-Arabiyya 40-41 (2008).  [translation]


Ghazali: The Revival of Islam (OxfordOneworld, 2008).


“The Poor Man’s Prophecy:  Al-Ghaz¥lÏ on Dreams,” in Dreaming across



Eric Ormsby

          Curriculum Vitae


Boundaries: The Interpretation of Dreams in Islamic Lands, ed. Louise Marlow

(Cambridge: Harvard University Press; The Ilex Foundation, 2008), pp. 142-152.


Theodizee im Islam” in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (4th edition;

Tübingen:  Paul Mohr, 2007)


The Faith of Pharaoh: A Disputed Question in Islamic Theology,” in:  Reason and Inspiration in Islam:  Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim

Thought.  Essays in Honour of Hermann Landolt, ed. by Todd Lawson (London; New York:  I.B. Tauris, in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2005), pp. 471-489.  [Also published in Studia Islamica 98-99 (2004), 5-28]


Nefes” by Yunus Emre, Descant 121 (Summer 2003) [translation from Turkish]


Ibn ¤azm in The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: The Literature of Al- Andalus, ed. by M.R. Menocal et al.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 237-251.


« Ab‰ ¤āmid al-Ghazālī vu par Louis Massignon, » in Louis Massignon et l’Iran (Paris:  Institut détudes iraniennes, 2000), pp. 51-59 [Travaux et mémoires de l’Institut d’études iraniennes, 5].


“Theodicy in Islam,” The Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion, ed. by J.Z. Smith (San Francisco:  HarperCollins, 1995), p. 1067.


“Arabic Philosophy,” in Readings in World Philosophy, ed. by Robert C.  Solomon and Kathleen Higgins (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1995), pp. 120-144.  Translations, with commentary, from Classical Arabic philosophers.


“Arabic Philosophy,” in From Africa to Zen: An Introduction to World Philosophy, ed. by Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen Higgins (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993), pp. 125-50.  A concise history of philosophical writing in Arabic.


The Taste of Truth: The Literary Structure of the Munqidh min al-\alāl of al-Ghazālī” in Islamic Studies presented to Charles J. Adams, ed. by Wael B. Hallaq and Donald P. Little (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1991), pp. 129-148.


“Ab‰ Nuwās: Poem in Archaic Meter,” Chelsea 49 (1990), pp. 117-120. 

Creation in Time in Islamic Thought with Special Reference to Al-Ghaz¥lÏ,” in

Eric Ormsby

          Curriculum Vitae



God and Creation: an Ecumenical Symposium, ed. by David B. Burrell and Bernard McGinn (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), pp. 246-264.


[editor] Moses Maimonides and His Time (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1989).  A collection of nine essays on Maimonides.


[with R. Mach] Handlist of Arabic Manuscripts (New Series) in the Princeton University

Library (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).  Provides concise description of

1,626 Arabic manuscripts acquired since 1955.


Theodicy in Islamic Thought: The Dispute over al-Ghazālī’s “Best of All Possible

Worlds” (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).  Selected as an”Outstanding

Academic Book of 1984 by Choice magazine.


Turkish Translation:  Islam şücesinde Ilahi Adalet (Teodise) sorunu (Ankara:  Kitabiyat Yayınları, 2001).


Four articles for the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. by Joseph R. Strayer

(NY: Scribner’s, 1982ff): “Ibn ¤azm,” [vol. 6, pp. 117-118], “Ismāμīliyya

[vol. 6, pp. 614-619], “Paradise (Islamic) [vol. 9, pp. 392-395], and

Purgatory (Islamic) [vol. 10, pp. 214-215].


[with D. Partington] “The Year’s Publications in Middle Eastern Studies, 1982,” The

Middle East Annual: Issues and Events, vol. 2 (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983), pp. 193-232.


[with D. Partington] The Years Publications in Middle Eastern Studies, 1981, The

Middle East Annual: Issues and Events, vol. 1 (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982), pp. 193-210.


“Modern Arabic Literature in North Africa: an Annotated Bibliography of Works in European Languages,” Mundus Arabicus, vol. 2 (Boston: Dar Mahjar, 1982), pp. 65-85.


Scholarly Book Reviews:


Reviews in such journals as The Journal of Religion, Journal of Islamic Law & Society, The Middle East Review, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Catholic Historical Review, Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies, The Maghreb Review, etc.


Other Books:


Fine Incisions: Essays on Poetry and Place (Erin, Ontario:  The Porcupine’s Quill,

Eric Ormsby

           Curriculum Vitae


2010.  [A collection of 24 essays on poets, novelists, and places]


Facsimiles of Time:  Essays on Poetry and Translation (Erin, Ontario:  The Porcupine’sQuill, 2001).  [A collection of 17 essays on literature]   


Poetry Collections:


The Baboons of Hada:  Selected Poems (Manchester:  Carcanet, 2011).


Time’s Covenant: Selected Poems (Windsor:  Biblioasis, 2007)


Daybreak at the Straits (Lincoln, NE:  Zoo Books, 2004)


Araby (Montreal:  Signal Editions, 2001)


For a Modest God:  New & Selected Poems (NY:  Grove Press, 1997)


Coastlines (Toronto:  ECW Press, 1992)


Bavarian Shrine and other poems (Toronto:  ECW Press, 1990)

[Winner of the QSpell Award for Poetry, 1991; and

an Ingram-Merrill Award for “outstanding work as a poet,” 1992]


Individual Poems in Magazines:


Since 1985, I have published poems in a variety of American, British and Canadian magazines, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The New Criterion, Shenandoah, Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, PN Review, Descant, The Fiddlehead, The Boston Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Globe & Mail, Grand Street,              Los Angeles Times Book Review, Literary Imagination, Parnassus, Salmagundi, Chelsea and The Yale Review, among others.                           


Individual Poems in Anthologies:


Three Fado poems translated, in Saudade:  an Anthology of Fado Poetry, ed. by Mimi Khalvati (London:  Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2010), pp. 124-133.


“Episode with a Potato,” in The Gastronomica Reader, ed. Darra Goldstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).


“Wood Fungus,” in Open Wide a Wilderness:  Canadian Nature Poems, ed. by Nancy Holmes (Waterloo, ON:  Wilfred Laurier Press, 2009), p. 289.

  Eric Ormsby

         Curriculum Vitae



“Childhood Pieties,” in Jailbreaks:  99 Canadian Sonnets, ed. by Zachariah Wells (Emeryville, ONBiblioasis, 2008).


“Adages of a Grandmother,” “Childhood House,” “Getting Ready for the Night,” and

“My Mother in Old Age,” in Motherhood: Poems about Mothers, ed. by Carmela Ciuraru (Everyman, 2005).


“Live Oak, with Bromeliads” and “Skunk Cabbage” in Flora Poetica, edited by Sarah

Maguire (LondonChatto & Windus, 2001).


“Flamingos,” in The Best American Poetry 1998, ed. by John Hollander (NY:  Scribner,

1998), pp. 228-230.


“Adages of a Grandmother,” in Literature:  The Human Experience (7th ed., NY:  St.

Press, 1998), pp. 159-160.

“Origins,” “Skunk Cabbage,” and “Starfish” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited by M. Anderson et al. (4th ed.,NY:  Norton, 1996; and 5th revised ed., 2005).


“My Mother in Old Age” in The Norton Introduction to Literature (5th ed., NY:

Norton, 1991).

“Bavarian Shrine” in The Arvon International Poetry Competition Anthology (1987).

Translations of poems into other Languages:


“Childhood House,” “Mullein,” and “Statues and Mannequins” translated into

Czech by Hana Žantovská and broadcast in Prague in October 1992.


“Baudelaire to Mme. Aupick,” “Fragrances,” “Hate” and “Of Paradise as a Garden”

translated into Serbian and published in Rec 14 (Belgrade), October 1995.


Journalistic Publications


Weekly column (“Readings”) in the New York Sun (January 2004—October 2008), consisting of some 250 articles; a separate list is available. 


Regular “op-ed” pieces, essays and book reviews in such newspapers and journals as The New York Sun, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, Books in Canada, The Montreal Review of Books, The Montreal Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, The

Eric Ormsby

          Curriculum Vitae



New Criterion, Partisan Review, Leviathan, PN Review, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Standpoint, The Oxford American, BookForum, and others.





Uncollected Essays and Articles (selected):


“The Shock Philosopher,” The New Criterion (June 2010) [on Simone Weil]


Review of Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze, in BookForum (June/July/August 2010)


“Underrated:  Geoffrey Hill,” in Standpoint 22 (May 2010)


“Teaching a Dumpling to Dance,” The New Criterion (April 2010) [on Rilke]


Review of Christopher Ricks, True Friendship, in Standpoint 21 (April 2010)


Review of Kenneth Slawenski, J.D. Salinger:  A Life Raised High, in The Times Literary



“Waiting for the Grammarians,” The New Criterion (April 2009) [on C.P. Cavafy]


Review of Tariq Ramadan, Radical Reform, in Standpoint, April 2009.


Review of Anthony Grafton, A World Made of Words, in The Wall Street Journal,

March 14, 2009.


“Instants in a Looking-Glass,” The New Criterion (February 2009) [on Hugo von



“The Koran: scrutinising the Inscrutable,” Standpoint 2 (June 2008), 53-55. 

[Essay/review of Tarif Khalidi, The Qur’an].


“The King of Never-To-Be,” The New Criterion (April 2008) [on Walter De La Mare].


“Treasures on Trial,” The Wall Street Journal (April 26, 2008) [review of James Cuno, Who Owns Antiquity?].


“The Lost Garden,” The New York Times Book Review (January 6, 2008) [on David


Eric Ormsby

           Curriculum Vitae


Levering Lewis’s  God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe].


“Flashes of Lightning,” The New Criterion (Jan. 2008) [on a new translation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace].


“Ambitious Diminutives:  La Fontaine and the Art of the Apologue,” Parnassus, vol. 30, (January 2008).


“Dangerously Sitting on the Fence,” Books in Canada (December 2007), 13-14. [review

of George Jonas, Reflections on Islam].


“A Mind Emparadised,” The New Criterion (Nov. 2007) [on the Hollander translation of Dante’s Paradiso].


“Delta Shaman,” The Times Literary Supplement (Nov. 2007) [review of Gerard Helferich, High Cotton].


“Heraclitus of New Hampshire,” The New Criterion (June 2007), pp. 69-72 [on Robert

Frost’s Notebooks].


“From Arabic to Hebrew,” The New York Times Book Review (May 6, 2007) [on The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, translated by Peter Cole].


“Robert Bridges’ New Cadence,” The New Criterion (April 2007).


“The God Within?”  The New Criterion (February 2007) [on Harold Bloom’s Library of America anthology of religious poems].


“A Study in Green,” Times Literary Supplement (December 15, 2006) [on Graham Greene].


“Empire under Siege,” The Wall Street Journal (December 6, 2006) [review of John Stoye, The Siege of Vienna].


Orientalism Reclaimed,” The Wall Street Journal (November 4-5, 2006) [on Edward Said; a review of Robert Irwin’s Dangerous Knowledge].


“Delousing the Soul,” The New Criterion  (September 2006) [on Joris-Karl Huysmans].


Eric Ormsby

          Curriculum Vitae


“From the Salty to the Sublime,” PN Review (September 2006) [on a new translation of Rumi’s Mathnawi].


“In Spite of Fame,” Times Literary Supplement (June 16, 2006) [on Clive James’s essays].


“The Cracked Kettle of Flaubert,” The New Criterion (May 2006).

“Of Strangled Bells,” The Times Literary Supplement (April 14, 2006) [on a translation of the modern Arab poet Adonis].


“An Austere Opulence,” The New Criterion (April 2006) [on Geoffrey Hill reading at Oxford].


Simious Seductions,” The New Criterion (March 2006) [on Richard Burton].


“Sweet Regret,” The Times Literary Supplement (January 6, 2006) [on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s early essays].


“Bitter Cherries,” PN Review (November 2005) [on Maram al-Masri].


“From Moses to Musa,” The New Criterion (Oct. 2005).  [On new translations of the Pentateuch and the Qur’an.]


“The Jewel in the Cobra’s Mouth,” The New Criterion (May 2005) [on the first six volumes of the Clay Sanskrit Library].


“A Song and a Mistake,” The New Criterion (Nov. 2004), 61-65. (on Ovid’s Metamorphoses)


“Petrarch:  A Splendid Excess,” The New Criterion (September 2004), 18-23.


Blowin’ in the Wind,” The New Criterion (June 2004) [on Christopher Ricks’s Dylan’s Vision of Sin].


“Of Lapdogs and Loners:  American Poetry Today,” The New Criterion (April 2004).


“The Voice Impersonator,” The New Criterion (March 2004) [on the Library of America edition of Ezra Pound’s poetry].



   Eric Ormsby

Curriculum Vitae


“The Disaster Parade,” The New Criterion (January 2004) [on Richard Yates].


“Waiting for the Golden Pig: Letter from Prague,” The New Criterion (Feb. 2004).


“The ‘Born Schulmeister’,” The New Criterion (September 2003) [on S.D. Goitein].


“Shadow Language,” The New Criterion (April 2003) [on the influence of foreign languages on English poetry].


“Majesty Threatened but Upheld,” Parnassus (November 2002) [On Dante translations]


“The Ghost in the Pantheon,” The New Criterion (October 2002). [On Victor Hugo]


“Orpheus with Arsenic,” The New Criterion (Feb. 2002). [on François Villon]


Gilded Totems,” Parnassus 26:1 (2001), pp. 9-25. [on James Merrill]

“In Search of al-Majati,” Descant 114 (Fall 2001), pp. 9-21.

[Winner of the Silver Medal for the Essay, National Magazine Awards]

“The Battle of the Book” The New Criterion (October 2001), pp. 4-16.

“Rimbaud:  Sophist of Insanity” The New Criterion (June 2001), pp. 16-21.


“Nostalgia for Bad Times:  Letter from Prague,” The New Criterion (May 1999),

  1. 40-45.


Prague of a Hundred Towers” [review of Peter Demetz, Prague in Black and Gold],

The New Criterion (March 1998), pp. 59-63.


“The Happiest Man in Morocco,” The Yale Review 85:3 (July 1997), pp. 76-84.


Book Reviews in Newspapers (selected):

Review of Gabriel Josipovici, What Ever Happened to Modernism? in The Wall Street

Journal, September 25, 2010.

Review of Adina Hoffman, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, in The Times

Literary Supplement (November 2009).

Review of Lesley Hazleton, After the Prophet in The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 2009).

Review of Andrew Wheatcroft, The Enemy at the Gate, in The New York Times Book


Eric Ormsby

         Curriculum Vitae


Review of David Levering Lewis, God’s Crucible, in The New York Times Book


Review of Orhan Pamuk, Snow in The Montreal Gazette (August 28, 2004).

Review of A Crack in the Wall:  New Arab Poetry, ed. Margaret Obank & Samuel Shimon, in Leviathan Quarterly 4 (June 2002), pp. 88-93.

Review of Marcel Reich-Ranicki, The Author of Himself:  The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki in Books in Canada, September 2002.

Review of Stephen Henighan, When Words Deny the World in The Montreal Gazette, August 2002.

Review of Wilfred Thesiger, A Vanished World in The New York Sun, May 13, 2002.

Review of Minou Reeves, Muhammad in Europe in The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 12,


Review of: John L. Esposito (ed.), The Oxford History of Islam in The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14, 2000.

Review of:  Bowersock, Glen, Peter Brown & Oleg Grabar (eds.), Late Antiquity in The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 2000.

Review of:  V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief in The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 1998.


Op-Ed Articles:


“The Echo Effect” in The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2001 [on Sept. 11, 2001].

Karbala and Najaf” in The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2003.



Scholarly and popular talks, conferences, presentations, readings (recent):


“Al-Ghazali on the Love of God,” invited lecture, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University, May 23, 2008.


Ghazali and the Taste for Truth,” invited lecture, Institute for Cultural Research, London, October 13, 2007.


“Al-Ghazali on Causality:  A Chapter of the Tah¥fut,” invited lecture, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, May 8, 2007.


Strokestown Poetry Festival, invited reader/competition finalist, Strokestown, Ireland, May 4-6, 2007.


“Two Epistles of Consolation:  al-Shahid al-Thani and Said Nursi on Theodicy,” invited

Eric Ormsby

         Curriculum Vitae


presentation, International Workshop: Theodicy and the Resurrection of the Dead in the

Writings of Nursi, Istanbul Ilim ve Kültür Vakfı/The Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture, Istanbul, November 19-20, 2006.


“Five Favourite Examples of Islamic Architecture,” invited lecture, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, July 2006.

“The Three Faces of Satan in Islam,” invited lecture, Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Boston University, Boston, April 2005 (subsequently broadcast on NPR).


“Theodicy in Islam,” moderator of a panel to mark the 20th anniversary of Theodicy in Islamic Thought, American Academy of Religion, Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas,

November 2004.


“The Love of God in al-Ghazālī,” American Academy of Religion, Annual Meeting,

Atlanta, Ga., November 22, 2003.


“Early Islam,” featured speaker, Congregation Dorshei Emet, Montreal, Nov.15,



“The Qur’ān,” featured speaker, The Sixth Annual Rooke Lecture, Trent University,

Peterborough, Ontario, November 13, 2003.


“Dream as Prophecy in Islam,” Annual Meeting, Middle East Studies Association,

Anchorage, Alaska, November 8, 2003.


Poetry Reading/Seminars on Poetry, Bentley College, Boston, Mass., Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2002.


Featured Reader, Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, Eden Mills, Ontario, Sept. 8, 2002. 

“Barbarian Lyric:  on a Dictum of Adorno,” Victoria College, University of Toronto,

March 14, 2002.


Poetry reading, Victoria College, University of Toronto, March 14, 2002.


“Islam and the Love of God,” Church of St. Andrew and St. Mark, Dorval, Mar. 10, 2002

Radio Interview, CBC Radio, “All in a Weekend” with Shelley Pomerance, Mar.10, 2002


“The Life of a Scholar:  S. D. Goitein,” talk for the Friends of The New Criterion, New

York, Feb. 27, 2002.


Poetry @ Lunch reading, McGill Rare Book Room, Feb. 22, 2002.


Reading, Java U Bistro, Concordia University, Feb. 12, 2002.