"Farrin is good at reading beyond the line. He provides readable and generally sensible essays on the poems, giving ample and illuminating attention to their backgrounds. He writes in an accessible style without unnecessary jargon."
—Geert Jan van Gelder, Speculum
"This innovative work should provoke much discussion among Arabic and Middle Eastern literature scholars. Recommended."
"One of the most important books to have been written
in the field in a very long time. . . . Farrin is not only
a conscientious scholar, but also a very refined and
sensitive literary critic."
—James T. Monroe, editor of Hispano
Abundance from the Desert provides a comprehensive introduction to
classical Arabic poetry, one of the richest of poetic traditions. Covering
the period roughly of 500–1250 c.e., it features original translations
and illuminating discussions of a number of major classical Arabic poems
from a variety of genres. The poems are presented chronologically, each
situated within a specific historical and literary context. Together, the
selected poems suggest the range and depth of classical Arabic poetic
expression; read in sequence, they suggest the gradual evolution of a
Moving beyond a mere chronicle, Farrin outlines a new approach
to appreciating classical Arabic poetry based on an awareness of
concentric symmetry, in which the poem’s unity is viewed not as a linear
progression but as an elaborate symmetrical plot. In doing so, the author
presents these works in a broader, comparative light, revealing connections
with other literatures. The reader is invited to examine these classical
Arabic works not as isolated phenomena—notwithstanding their uniqueness
and their association with a discrete tradition—but rather as part of
a great multicultural heritage.
This pioneering book marks an important step forward in the study of
Arabic poetry. At the same time, it opens the door to this rich tradition for
the general reader.
View other books in the series Middle East Literature in Translation
Raymond Farrin is assistant professor of Arabic at the American
University of Kuwait. His articles have been published in such journals as
the Journal of Arabic Literature and the Muslim World.
6 x 9, 304 pages, references, index