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  • Cited by 3
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    Marzolph, Ulrich 2014. In the Studio of theNights. Middle Eastern Literatures, Vol. 17, Issue. 1, p. 43.


    Herzog, Thomas 2013. Ubi sumus? Quo vademus?.


    Allen, Roger 2011. Rewriting literary history: the case of Moroccan fiction in Arabic. The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, p. 311.


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    Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period
    • Online ISBN: 9781139053990
    • Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603
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Book description

The final volume of The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature explores the Arabic literary heritage of the little-known period from the twelfth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Even though it was during this time that the famous Thousand and One Nights was composed, very little has been written on the literature of the period generally. In this volume Roger Allen and Donald Richards bring together some of the most distinguished scholars in the field to rectify the situation. The volume is divided into parts with the traditions of poetry and prose covered separately within both their 'elite' and 'popular' contexts. The last two sections are devoted to drama and the indigenous tradition of literary criticism. As the only work of its kind in English covering the post-classical period, this book promises to be a unique resource for students and scholars of Arabic literature for many years to come.

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'… an intellectual and academic enterprise …'

Amidu Olalekan Sanni - Lagos State University

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  • 1 - Arabic poetry in the post-classical age
    pp 23-59
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    From the fourth/tenth century on, Arabic poetry underwent a number of processes of acquisition and discard. For the post-classical poet, echoes of great poetic works produced over centuries continued to reverberate in his consciousness. As early as the beginning of what has been termed the 'earlier middle period' of the Islamic empire, some of the basic elements of this poetry were showing signs of weakness. Insidious shortcomings became evident in various aspects of the poem, especially the waning of a genuine emotional impulse in many poets and a loss of the old precision and eloquent diction. The essence of Sufi thought entered the lifeblood of the poem and informed its vision. Ibn Nubāta embarked on poetry in a period when eulogy had become so entrenched as to be synonymous with poetry. The poets of the later Mamluk age that preceded the Ottoman era remain largely uncelebrated in works of literary history.
  • 2 - Poetic creativity in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries
    pp 60-73
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Studies in Arabic devoted to poetic output during the period between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries are characterized by a kind of anxiety caused by a painful awareness that Arabic poetry at the time had entered its era of decline and was facing a serious crisis. This chapter shows that the period includes an enormous number of poetic collections and poets in both east and west of the region. First disjuncture impacts upon the relationship of the poet to his poetry. Second disjuncture reveals itself through a tension in the relationship that is supposed to exist between poetry and audience. Third disjuncture refers to the disappearance of the distinction between poetry and other genres; indeed poetry starts to conform to the expectations of other genres. Research on the poetry of this period soon reveals that poetic practice often led to an erasure of the gap between poetry and religion.
  • 3 - Arabic religious poetry, 1200–1800
    pp 74-86
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The mystical verse of Ibn al-Fārid and al-Būsīrī's hymns to the Prophet Muhammad struck a devotional chord, which continues to resonate within Arabic religious poetry and Muslim culture. Reference to religion was common in classical and post-classical Arabic poetry. The martial spirit is evident in numerous panegyrics for sultans and amirs, whether the Nasirids of Andalusia, the Almohads of North Africa, the Mamluks of Egypt, Syria and the Arab peninsula, or their Ottoman successors. Ibn al-‘Arabī composed a great deal of poetry, found in many of his doctrinal works and in his Dīwān, a substantial collection of verse in various forms on a variety of subjects. In addition to the Nazm al-sulūk, Ibn al-Fārid composed about a dozen shorter poems on love and longing, including his ode to mystical wine. The factor contributing to the genre was the mystical view of Muhammad as a type of logos principle, often referred to as the Nūr Muhammad, 'the Light of Muhammad'.
  • 4 - The role of the pre-modern: the generic characteristics of the band
    pp 87-98
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The processes of cultural change that affected the world of Arabic literature during the fifth/eleventh century reflect a situation in which certain cultural forms chose to remain aloof from all events and trends connected with modernization. The band is considered one of the literary modes of expression that emerged during the period of major cultural decentralization that early Arabic literature witnessed. There are five bands in all, and their general conformity and organized structure lead one to the conclusion that they had precedents. There is radical disagreement concerning the band's rhythmic structure. Scholars divide into two completely separate and opposing camps: one claims the band is poetry, the other that it is prose. As a consequence of the different facets and artistic, objective characteristics, the band creates in the recipient a 'horizon of expectation', whose constituent parts are all organized in accordance with the general features of early Arabic prose-writing.
  • 5 - Pre-modern belletristic prose
    pp 99-133
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Any survey of pre-modern belletristic prose in Arabic can be discussed with generic hierarchies. A review of cultural and bureaucratic continuity demands detailed attention to Fatimid chancery practice, especially regarding honours conferred on holders of chancery positions. During the Mamluk era, initiation into the Koran and hadīth inevitably fostered a vogue for rhyming prose, with its invocations of the Koranic, regardless of the implications of meaning. While it is reasonable to link the stupendous growth of the risāla genre to its early efflorescence, Fatimid and subsequent Ayyubid and Mamluk achievements deserve particular attention. During the Bahrī period the turbaned classes included dīwān scribes, theologians, preachers and littérateurs at large. The ulamā also played the role of transmitting legitimate religious knowledge. Historical and biographical narratives had a strong appeal for the elite. Between Sufi discourse and oratory there is a common ground of religious referentiality, although each fulfils its purposes in different ways.
  • 6 - The essay and debate (al-risāla and al-munāzara)
    pp 134-144
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Risāla is a loosely used term in medieval Arabic literature. Writing risālas belongs to 'ilm al-inshā', 'the science of composition'. A special section of 'ilm al-inshā' is 'ilm al-tarassul, 'the science of epistolography' in a strict sense, a science of how letters should be written. In belles-lettres, riSāla is a rather general concept, partly overlapping with other, more easily definable genres, as can be seen from the confusion between different titles. The genres which come closest to risāla are munāzara, maqāma; and khutba. Ibn Kamāl-Pāshā also wrote a series of technical risālas on wine, opium and other products which were suspect in Islamic eyes. The literary risālas also show a wide variety. Among the features common to all is what might be called the risāla style, including a prolific use of rhymed prose and full use of the lexical possibilities of the classical Arabic language. Literary debates have two different structures, with slight variation in the elements being possible.
  • 7 - The maqāma
    pp 145-158
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The maqāma is a prolific genre of Arabic literature which, was invented in the late tenth century by Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Hamadhānī, known as Badī al-Zamān, and has lasted until the twentieth. Brockelmann's Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, for example, lists ninety-nine works entitled maqāmat. A more detailed definition of the classical literary maqāma must be based on the works of al-Harīrī and al-Hamadhānī. The Maqāmāt are inherently dramatic, humorous and parodic, and it is these features which have attracted so many nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors to adapt the genre to modern Arabic literature. The thirteenth-century scholar Badr al-Dīn Ahmad ibn Muhāmmad ibn al-Muzāffar ibn al-Mukhtār al-Rāzī penned a collection of twelve maqāmas in an explicit effort to outdo al-Hārīrī. The fact that the classical maqāma devoted great energy and ingenuity to frivolous topics while apparently showing that the bad guy always wins created a moral tension which neither escaped, nor sat very easily with, many medieval authors.
  • 8 - Mamluk history and historians
    pp 159-170
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Mamluk sultan Qānsūh al-Ghūrī used to preside over twice-weekly soirées. Earlier Mamluk sultans and amirs took an active interest in the production of chronicles. The Syrian approach to history-writing was an aspect of the Sunni revival, whose antecedents were in Baghdad and most specifically in the historical writing of Ibn al-Jawzī, a Hanbali preacher in that city. The Mir'āt's emphasis and organization were copied by later Syrian 'ulamā' and also influenced the court chroniclers of Egypt and other historians. The support of the Syrian 'ulamā' historians for Ibn Taymiyya in his struggles with his enemies among the Mamluk military elite and the Sufi shaykhs suggests some detachment from the values of the Mamluk court and administration. Al-Subkī warned that historians stood on the brink of a precarious sand dune. Historians used invented dialogues in order to explain policy-making and conflict among the elite.
  • 9 - Historiography in arabic during the ottoman period
    pp 171-188
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Ottoman empire in a few decisive battles destroyed the Mamluk sultanate, which included Egypt, Syria and parts of Anatolia. It is well known that the Mamluk sultanate was extremely rich in history writing, more than any other period in pre-modern Islam. It was believed that Arabic historiography declined in quantity and quality during the Ottoman centuries. The political, diplomatic and military events leading to the Mamluk-Ottoman conflict and the occupation of Egypt, and then the first six years of Ottoman rule are superbly narrated by the Cairene chronicler Muhammad ibn Iyās. Although Mount Lebanon was a part of Greater Syria and, of course, a part of the Ottoman empire, it was a separate political and administrative unit and had its own history owing to its unique topography. Similarly to the situation in Syria, eighteenth-century Iraq saw the emergence of governors of local Iraqi families.
  • 10 - Popular poetry in the post-classical period, 1150–1850
    pp 189-242
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter focusses on the most understudied area of Arabic literature, namely popular poetry of the post-classical period. Most important in the case of Arabic, the linguistic register of the works might be used as the primary means of identifying popular texts. In fact, no single criterion among these can be relied on to the exclusion of all others, and linguistic register, subject matter and form alike will be primary guides. Though the origins of the two most important forms of non-classical Arabic strophic poetry, the muwashshah and the zajal, remain obscure, it is beyond question that it was in Andalusia that they flourished and developed and reached their full glory. With the extension from 1516 of Ottoman hegemony over the Arab lands from Iraq to Algeria and southwards to Eritrea, the social and cultural trajectory that characterized the Mamluk era continued and intensified.
  • 11 - Popular prose in the post-classical period
    pp 243-269
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In Europe, the rise of popular literature is usually linked to the advent of print. Although European popular literature eventually generated forms and styles of its own, it also drew constantly on both folklore and elite literature for materials and stylistic inspiration. The qāss certainly represents the Islamicized continuation of an earlier story-telling tradition. The single most important source regarding non-religious Arabic popular literature dates to the tenth century, the Kitāb al-fihrist of Ibn al-Nadīm. From the number and geographic distribution of extant manuscripts, it can be ascertained that the large frame-tale collections all continued to be copied and transformed throughout the post-classical period. The Libro de las batallas includes accounts of seven different battles fought by the Prophet Muhammad, Alī ibn AbīTālib and other Islamic and pre-Islamic figures. Several different modes of production interacted over the centuries to produce the corpus of texts.
  • 12 - A Thousand and One Nights: a history of the text and its reception
    pp 270-291
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The book known in English as A Thousand and One Nights bears the imprint of many different times, places and individuals. The history of its transmission, translation, expurgation and falsification is nearly as fabulous as the tales told by its most famous character, Shahrazād. The core cycle of tales which occupy the first 200 to 282 nights of the Syrian and Egyptian manuscript groups are organized in a manner that has sparked interest and awe among readers and literary scholars from many different cultures. The literary style of the Nights has received a variety of assessments from critics and translators over the centuries ranging from complete condemnation to fulsome praise. A number of partial translations were published by scholars during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries from Arabic manuscripts other than that used by Antoine Galland. The idea that the Nights was the key to the East was to live on for well over two centuries.
  • 13 - Sīrat‘ Antar ibn Shaddād
    pp 292-306
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Sīrat 'Antar ibn Shaddād, which recounts his heroic deeds, has long been popular with Arab audiences. Sīrat 'Antar was introduced to Western scholarship early in the nineteenth century. Al-Hamdānī already speaks about 'Antar and 'Abla in battle with Yemenis. A problem with an early dating of some form of the cycle is that no evidence for its existence is found in Ibn al-Nadīm's Fihrist. The narrative structure of the cycle follows the patterns familiar to the genre. The sīra is written in rhymed prose, saj', interspersed with poetry. The number of poems differs from recension to recension. As in the other epics, the language of 'Antar as transmitted by the existing manuscripts and printed editions is post-classical literary Arabic, showing many colloquial elements. The popularity of the 'Antar cycle is also illustrated by the wide occurrence of usually rather crude pictorial 'Antar representations throughout the Arab world.
  • 14 - Sīrat Banī Hilāl
    pp 307-318
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The destruction of the tribe in the twelfth century almost certainly contributed to the remarkably broad geographic distribution of tales, legends, proverbs and poems about the Banī Hilāl found in the modern Arab world. In the latter half of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth, printed chapbook editions of Sīrat Banī Hilāl began to be produced with some regularity, primarily in Cairo. Sīrat Banī Hilāl does not focus upon the life and exploits of a single heroic figure, but rather upon the complex interaction among a cluster of principal characters. The four central male figures are balanced by one primary female character, al-Jazya, as well as a number of secondary, though highly significant, female figures such as al-Khadra Sharīfa, Shīha, Azīza and Suda. Sīrat Banī Hilāl is unique among the Arab folk epics in having survived primarily as an oral tradition and only secondarily in written form.
  • 15 - Other sīras and popular narratives
    pp 319-329
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Arabic tradition of popular literature produced a significant number of sīras other than the well-known Sīrasrat 'Antar and Sīrat Banī Hilāl. The written versions of popular sīras tend to be composed in either straightforward prose or, more usually, a style that relies substantially on rhymed prose interspersed with poetry. In the twentieth century, the Arabic traditions of oral and written story telling underwent considerable change. Many sīras combine elements of both Iranian and pre-Islamic Arabic history. Another group of narratives dealing with early Islamic history takes as its protagonist Alī ibn Abī Tālib. Sīras rely on a relatively limited number of characters, plots, narrative structures and themes to create their stories. Love is always mutual in sīras, and female beloveds frequently work actively to further the love affair by arranging love trysts. Popular sīras are also united as a genre by their common representation of certain governing themes.
  • 16 - Popular religious narratives
    pp 330-344
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Many Arabic popular religious prose narratives from the post-classical period exist mostly in manuscript; relevant sources are few and their tone is dismissive, if not downright disdainful. Qāss, plqussās, is a popular story-teller or a preacher, deliverer of sermons. His main function was preaching in the mosques, most probably delivering the sermon. There are several types of popular religious narratives in the pre-modern era such as narratives about the Prophet Muḥammad, prophets, companions of the Prophet Muḥammad, pious men and women, and impious men and women. This chapter presents some of the characteristics of the popular religious narratives. The religious narratives abound with scenes of tortured, starved or thirsty bodies etc., especially the Coptic narratives about saints and martyrs. These narratives appear to have an inclusive tendency, which is shown in the way they appropriate other religious traditions or reflect the local culture in contrast to the dogmatic texts and rituals of the official cultus.
  • 17 - Drama in the post-classical period: a survey
    pp 345-368
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the evolution of Arab drama in the post-classical period. The maqāma grew in popularity during the tenth and eleventh centuries, but artists and poets have continued to devote their attentions to it without interruption almost until our times. As far as the hikāya is concerned, the semantic origin of the word implies the idea of imitation, referring especially to the language, both written and oral. Perhaps, like many other genres within Arabic literature, intended for collective reading, their already noted realistic vein places them in a position close to that of hikāyāt. The dramatic spirit in al-Hamadhānī's maqāmāt is relatively flimsy and can at best be viewed as a possible prelude to any subsequent development of a literary genre. It is interesting to note that performances based on older texts were undoubtedly still in vogue in the nineteenth century, as is attested in several sources, not least the work of Ahmad Taymūr Bāsha on Arab dramatic art.
  • 18 - Pre-modern drama
    pp 369-384
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Traditional forms of popular drama continued to exist well after the growth of European dramatic activities in the Arab world and were to provide some inspiration to the emergent modern Arab theatre. The shadow player frequently used a stand, like the European marionette theatre, with a screen stretched across and illuminated from behind by an oil-lamp or candles. Karākūz was composed of short comic dialogues, dances and set-piece scenes, depicting centuries-old stories, historical events, legends and fictional tales. The Egyptians were often amused by players of low and ridiculous farces, called muhabbazūn, who presented a short comic scene, a primitive kind of commedia dell'arte. The Maghrib countries had their own traditional forms of drama, among which were the ḥalqa, bisā and fattāla. Masked performances were to be seen in Muḥarram and during other religious feasts. Popular bands of female dancers, ghawāzī, were a familiar entertainment in Egyptian villages.
  • 19 - Criticism in the post-classical period: a survey
    pp 385-418
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521771603.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Criticism is concerned with the evaluation of literary works, often as an academic discipline. The post-classical period begins with a burst of intellectual activity in the area of criticism. Writing in thirteenth-century Damascus, Ibn al-Athīr is one of the main figures of the Arabic critical tradition. In addition to the critics of al-Mutanabbī, Ibn al-Athīr also attacks those who believed that pre-Islamic poetry was better than later poetry. Adabī works are considered to be the heart of the critical tradition. These works provide the definition and discussion of most terms associated with poetry and Arabic style. In al-Mi'yīr fī naqd al-ashīar, for instance, Muhammad al-Andalusī outlines the basic elements of poetry. Works on balāgha are an important part of the critical tradition. Like many of the medieval disciplines, 'ilm al-balāgha has been seen as displaying signs of Greek influence. The post-classical period is marked by a greater effort to make Greek ideas on criticism more meaningful to an Arab audience.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.


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