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Abundance from the Desert
Classical Arabic Poetry

Raymond Farrin

Cloth $24.95s    |    978-0-8156-3222-1    |    2010

"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 Arabic Poetry

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 tradition.

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

Abundance from the Desert

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