Arabic Literature: An Overview

Arabic Literature: An Overview

Arabic Literature: An Overview

Arabic Literature: An Overview


Assuming no previous knowledge of the subject, Arabic Literature - An Overview gives a rounded and balanced view of Arab literary creativity. 'High' literature is examined alongside popular folk literature, and the classical and modern periods, usually treated separately, are presented together. Cachia's observations are not subordinated to any pre-formed literary theory, but describe and illustrate the directions taken, in order to present an overall picture of the field of relevance to the student of literature as well as to Arabists working in related fields.


During my long teaching career, I wished that my first year students had access to a short, readable, self-explanatory book that would give them not a deep but a rounded and balanced view of the entire field of Arab literary creativity. It would in itself be valid and worthwhile. It would guide their choice of the more advanced courses they might take. It would enable them to fit the detailed information they got in these courses into a sensible perspective. It might even open out for them an area in which to conduct research of their own.

It is such a book that I have tried to produce in my retirement. It assumes no previous knowledge of Arabic, although it does not evade linguistic peculiarities essential to the understanding of the literature. It dips only minimally into the political and cultural background of this literature. It does not even yield to all the priorities of the literary historian in that it does not necessarily name and characterize all the major literary figures of each period. What above all it tries to do is to identify the trends and themes that developed over the centuries, and to illustrate these with samples that will yield something of their flavour.

I like to think that such a book may be of service to the inquisitive general reader as well.

An Egyptian folk proverb has it that “the flautist dies with his fingers still twitching”. I have tried to curb my academic habits and inclinations, subordinating them to the real needs of the readership I have in mind. For example, the field bristles with moot questions that can be resolved only by detailed examination of texts and discussion of arguments. I have been content to draw the broad

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