INFO:• Large peninsula separated from Africa by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden on the west and from Asia by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman on the east• Indian Ocean forms the southern boundary and the deserts of Jordan and Syria isolate the area from the north. Arabs call the area “Jazirat al- Arab” (island of the Arabs).
INFO:• Arabian peninsula was occupied by the wealthy Sabaean civilization, then by Babylonians and the Egyptians.• It was eventually united (7th century) under the caliphs of Muhammad and became the “cradle of Islam”.
• The structure of the Arabic language is well-suited to harmonious word-patterns, with elaborate rhymes and rhythms.• The earliest known literature emerged in northern Arabia around 500 AD and took the form of poetry which was recited aloud, memorized and handed down from one generation to another.• It began to be written down towards the end of the seventh century.
MU’ALLAQAT• Meaning “suspended”• considered sufficiently outstanding to be hung on the walls of the kaba in Makkah.
QASIDAH• normally consists of 70-80 pairs of half-lines• describe the nomadic life, opening with a lament at an abandoned camp for a lost love• praise the poets horse or camel and describes a journey, with the hardships it entails• contain the main theme of the poem, often extolling the poets tribe and villifying its enemies
IBN AL MUQAFFA• a convert to Islam who translated classical Persian works into Arabic• became famous as the author of Kalila and Dimna, a series of didactic fables in which two jackals offer moral and practical advice
AL-JAHIZ • developed Arabic prose into a literary vehicle of precision and elegance • noted for his wit and became one of Baghdads leading intellectuals during the early Abbasid period
Most famous works of Al-Jahiz:• Kitab al-Hayawan ("The Book of Animals"), an anthology of animal anecdotes.• Kitab al-Bayan wa al-Tabyin ("The Book of Elucidation and Exposition"), ostensibly about rhetoric but also covering history and science.• Kitab al-Bukhala’ ("The Book of Misers"), amusing but perceptive observations on psychology.
ABU AL-FARAJ al-Isfahani• wrote Kitab al-Aghani ("The Book of Songs"), in 24 volumes. A model of simplicity and clarity in its writing, the book gives a comprehensive picture of Arab culture and society, including songs and poems which were popular in Baghdad under the Caliph Harun al-Rashid.
AL-HAMADHANI • credited with inventing the genre known as maqamat("assem blies") - dramatic anecdotes narrated by a witty but unscrupulous rogue which poke fun at all levels of society
AL-HARIRI• took the maqamahto new heights (or extremes) in order to demonstrate his prowess with word- play and his seemingly inexhaustible vocabulary
MAIN FRAME OF THE STORY• concerns a Persian king and his new bride• He is shocked to discover that his brothers wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wifes infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief decides that all women are the same.• The king, Shahryar, begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him.
• Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins.• Scheherazade, the viziers daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees.• On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion.• The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights.
• Story ends with the sultan pardoning Sheherezade, thus accepting that he had already fallen in love with her.