This Absence of Camels

by zunguzungu

You know, for whatever reason, the biggest effect that Elif Batumen piece had on me was the desire to write a novel. Not sure that’s what she was going for, but it did suddenly make my non-MFA program status seem like a virtue. Anyway, if I ever do write a novel, I’m going to call it “This Absence of Camels.”

As Borges writes:

“Gibbon observes that in the Arabian book par excellence, in the Koran, there are no camels. If there were any doubt as to the authenticity of the Koran, this absence of camels would be sufficient to prove it is an Arabian work.”

I find that all kinds of awesome, but particularly so because I am informed that there are, in fact, camels in the Qu’ran. Human Province does the leg-work there. Perhaps Borges was just living up to his own maxim that “the original is unfaithful to the translation”?

In any case — beyond suggesting to me that we need to start circulating the meme that the presence of camels in the Qu’ran demonstrates its inauthenticity, and hope D’Souza picks it up next — that led me to try to find the passage Borges might have been reading in Gibbon. This seems to be it, a footnote that does not really at all say what Borges said it said:

“Mahomet himself, who was fond of milk, prefers the cow, and does not even mention the camel.”

For Further Discussion: What other books are proven to be the authentic word of God by the fact that they do not contain camels?