This volume brings together a set of key studies on classical Arabic poetry (ca. 500-1000 C.E.), published over the last thirty-five years; the individual articles each deal with a different approach, period, genre, or theme. The major focus is on new interpretations of the form and function of the pre-eminent classical poetic genre, the polythematic qasida, or Arabic ode, particularly explorations of its ritual, ceremonial and performance dimensions. Other articles present the typology and genre characteristics of the short monothematic forms, especially the lyrical ghazal and the wine-poem. After thus setting out the full poetic genres and their structures, the volume turns in the remaining studies to the philological, rhetorical, stylistic and motival elements of classical Arabic poetry, in their etymological, symbolic, historical and comparatist dimensions. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych's Introduction places the articles within the context of the major critical and methodological trajectories of the field and in doing so demonstrates the increasing integration of Arabic literary studies into contemporary humanistic scholarship. The Selected Bibliography complements the Introduction and the Articles to offer the reader a full overview of the past generation of Western literary and critical scholarship on classical Arabic poetry.
'… the collection succeeds and will prove indispensable to those who would venture into this field… there is no gainsaying that usefulness and convenience of having it all in one place, not to mention the expediency of the select bibliography and index. More significant, though, is the impact of this collection: the reader is left with a sense of the immense cultural wealth of the early islamic world, an impression that stands in stark contrast to much of what is said about Islam nowadays. We would do well to remember these aspects of Arabic and Muslim cultural life more frequently. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych and the editors of 'The Formation of the Islamic World' have done us a great service in helping us to remember.' The Muslim World Book Review
Contents: Introduction. Oral composition in pre-Islamic poetry, James T. Monroe; Structuralist interpretations of pre-Islamic poetry: critique and new dimensions, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych; Islamic kingship and Arabic panegyric poetry of the early 9th century, Stefan Sperl; The poetic coterie of the Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 247 H.): a contribution to the analysis of authorities of socio-literary legitimation, J. E. Bencheike; The uses of the qasida: thematic and structural patterns in a poem of Bashshar, Julie Scott Meisami; Abbasid praise poetry in light of dramatic discourse and speech act theory, Beatrice Gruendler; Revisiting Layla al-Akhyaliya's trespass, Dana Sajdi; Time and reality in nasib and ghazal, Renate Jacobi; Heterotopia and the wine poem in early Islamic culture, Yaseen Noorani; Sensibility and synaesthesia: Ibn al-Rumi's singing slave girl, Akiko Motoyoshi; Name and epithet: the philology and semiotics of animal nomenclature in early Arabic poetry, Jaroslav Stetkevych; Guises of the ghul: dissembling simile and semantic overflow in the classical Arabic nasib, Michael A. Sells; From primary to secondary qasidas: thoughts on the development of classical Arabic poetry, M.M. Badawi; Toward a redefinition of 'badi' poetry, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych. Index.