Richard Lemay papers
This collection documents the work of Richard Joseph Lemay (1916-2009), who was a scholar of medieval and Arabic philosophy and science. Lemay’s academic career spanned seven decades in three countries on two continents. His last appointment was as Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York (CUNY). He was a preeminent authority on the twelfth-century transmission of Arabic knowledge to the Western world. His 1962 historical narrative Abu Ma‘Shar and Latin Aristotelianism in the Twelfth Century: the Recovery of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy through Arabic Astrology argued the larger role of astrology in philosophical thought during the early Medieval period and made him a pioneer in his field. In addition to the two book manuscripts, Lemay published a number of scholarly articles. A full bibliographical sketch is included at the end of this finding aid.
Arabic manuscripts were translated into Latin by several philosophers, resulting in numerous variants. The invention of the printing press in the late Medieval period facilitated the dispersal of these variant translations across Europe. Lemay attempted to track and reconcile the various translations by researching Europe’s medieval archives. He also translated many original Arabic texts and their Medieval Latin translations into French. Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy in documenting these various translations in the collection.
A note about names, spellings, and titles within this collection. Many Arabic names have spelling variants throughout the collection. The Arabic philosopher Abu Ma‘Shar for instance may appear as Albu Mashar, Abou Ma‘Shar, Abu Masaar, Albu Masaar or Albunasar. Additionally, many original Arabic manuscripts are referred to either their Arabic title or their translated Latin title variously throughout the collection. For instance, Centiloquium, which Lemay argues is actually the work of Abu Ja‘far Ahmad ibn Yusuf and not the Greek Ptolemy, is known in Arabic as the Kitāb aṯ-Ṯamara and in Greek as the Karpos. Every attempt has been made to retain Lemay’s original spelling and usage, even in cases where Lemay moves between the various spellings within common and related files.
Lastly, Lemay often reused paper by printing on the back of old notes. Every attempt has been made to ensure the proper description of his records, disregarding old notes. However because Lemay did not always cross out old notes when he reused paper, this may cause some difficulty in researching the collection. In most cases Lemay’s files should be read as single-sided print and any printing on the reverse side should be considered old obsolete notes.
- 1962 - 2004
- Lemay, Richard Joseph (Person)
Collection is open for research.
All rights reside with the creator/repository. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections.
23 boxes (30.68 cubic feet)
June 30, 1916 - Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1936 - University of Montreal (B.A.)
1940 - University of Montreal (Licence of Theology [B.A.])
1940-1941 - Teacher, Religious Education, Jacques Cartier Normal School, Montreal
1943 - University of Montreal (Doctorate of Theology – completed, no degree)
1946 - Institute Albert-le-Grand (France) (Licence of Philosophy [B.A.])
1947-1949 - Foreign Correspondent (UN), Le Devoir, Montreal
1956 - Lecturer, Columbia University
1957 - Petri Pomponatii Mantuani Libri quingue de Fato, de Libero Arbitrio et de Praedestinatione
1958 - Columbia University (Ph.D. History)
1958-1965 - Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut (promoted to Associate professor during appointment)
1962 - Abu Ma ‘Shar and Latin Aristotelianism in the Twelfth Century: the Recovery of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy through Arabic Astrology
1963 - Associate Director of Studies, Sorbonne High School of Practical Studies, France
1965-1968 - Researcher, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research), Paris
1968-1970 - Officer of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
1970-1975 - Associate Professor, Graduate School of the City University of New York (CUNY)
1973 - Lecturer, Center for Higher Studies of Medieval Civilization, University of Poitiers, France
1975-1986 - Professor, Graduate School of the CUNY
1986-1989 - Professor Emeritus, CUNY
May 11, 2004 - Death in New York
Gift of Dr. Helen Rodnite Lemay, 2004
- Lemay, Richard Joseph (Person)
Part of the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections Repository
Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene Street
Columbia SC 29208 USA
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