An Introduction to Arabic Literature

An Introduction to Arabic Literature

An Introduction to Arabic Literature

An Introduction to Arabic Literature

Synopsis

Roger Allen provides a comprehensive introductory survey of literary texts in Arabic, from their unknown beginnings in the fifth century AD to the present day, and from Islam's sacred text, the Qur'an, to popular literature including The Arabian Nights and a wealth of poetry, narrative prose, drama and criticism. With extensive quotations in English translation, a chronology and a guide to further reading, this revised and abridged version of Allen's acclaimed study, The Arabic Literary Heritage (CUP 1998), provides an invaluable student introduction to a major non-Western literary tradition.

Excerpt

As a scholar in Arabic literature and the teacher of a university-level course on Arabic literary history, I have for some time been experimenting with different ways of presenting the subject to university students with a broad range of humanistic interests and also to a more general reading public. I have often asked my own students to comment on the merits of previous attempts at writing a history of Arabic literature and to prepare outlines for a new approach to the topic. I am therefore especially pleased to acknowledge here that many of the principles used in preparing this work are as much a reflection of classroom debates and essay responses as of profitable discussions with academic colleagues.

I have written this book without resorting to footnotes, and so I cannot acknowledge in the time-honoured fashion the debt that I owe to numerous colleagues whose critical studies of the Arabic literary tradition are reflected in the pages that follow. I can only express the hope that the guide to further reading listed at the end of the work will convey some idea of the extent to which I am grateful for their insights. I might perhaps take a leaf out of the book of the Middle East's primary jokester, Juhā, and suggest that those who know what those sources of my inspiration are might tell those who do not.

Several of my colleagues have done me the great service of reading portions of this work in advance of its publication. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their wise counsel and gentle correction, while absolving them of all responsibility for the result: Geert Jan van Gelder, Peter Heath, Salma Khadra al-Jayyusi, Hilary Kilpatrick, Everett Rowson, Yasir Saqr, Michael Sells, and William Smyth.

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