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Look Inside Arabic Poetics

Arabic Poetics
Aesthetic Experience in Classical Arabic Literature


Part of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization

  • Author: Lara Harb, Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Publication planned for: April 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108490214

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • What makes language beautiful? Arabic Poetics offers an answer to what this pertinent question looked like at the height of the Islamic civilization. In this novel argument, Lara Harb suggests that literary quality depended on the ability of linguistic expression to produce an experience of discovery and wonder in the listener. Analyzing theories of how rhetorical figures, simile, metaphor, and sentence construction are able to achieve this effect of wonder, Harb shows how this aesthetic theory, first articulated at the turn of the eleventh century CE, represented a major paradigm shift from earlier Arabic criticism which based its judgement on criteria of truthfulness and naturalness. In doing so, this study poses a major challenge to the misconception in modern scholarship that Arabic criticism was 'traditionalist' or 'static', exposing an elegant widespread conceptual framework of literary beauty in the post-eleventh-century Islamicate world which is central to poetic criticism, the interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics in Arabic philosophy and the rationale underlying discussions about the inimitability of the Quran.

    • Gives the modern reader tools to read and appreciate classical Arabic literature, the Quran, and to understand the idiosyncratic interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics in Arabic
    • Engages with, and deepens understanding of aesthetic theory and classical Arabic literary theory
    • Considers works from the thirteenth and fourteenth century, which have received much less attention in modern scholarship on classical Arabic literature
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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108490214
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • Table of Contents

    1. Wonder: a new paradigm
    2. Wonder in Aristotelian Arabic poetics
    3. Discovery in Bayān
    4. Metaphor and the aesthetics of the sign
    5. Naẓm, wonder, and the inimitability of the Quran
    Epilogue. Faṣāḥa, balāgha, and poetic beauty.

  • Author

    Lara Harb, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Lara Harb is an Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University where she specializes in classical Arabic literary theory, and Arabic conceptions of the 'literary'. She is the author of articles in journals including Journal of American Oriental Society and Middle Eastern Literatures. Her Ph.D. was awarded the S. A. Bonebakker Prize for the best thesis in Classical Arabic Literature in 2014.

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