Literature and the Islamic Court: Cultural life under al-Sahib Ibn 'Abbad, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Literature and the Islamic Court

Cultural life under al-Sahib Ibn 'Abbad, 1st Edition

By Erez Naaman


316 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-02-15
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Courts were the most important frameworks for the production, performance, and evaluation of literature in medieval Islamic civilization. Patrons vying for prestige attracted to their courts literary people who sought their financial support. The most successful courts assembled outstanding literary people from across the region.

The court of the vizier and literary person al-Sahib Ibn ʿAbbad (326-385/938-995) in western Iran is one of the most remarkable examples of a medieval Islamic court, with a sophisticated literary activity in Arabic (and, to a lesser extent, in Persian). Literature and the Islamic Court examines the literary activity at the court of al-Sahib and sheds light on its functional logic. It is an inquiry into the nature of a great medieval court, where various genres of poetry and prose were produced, performed, and evaluated regularly. Major aspects examined in the book are the patterns of patronage, selection, and auditioning; the cultural codes and norms governing performance, production, and criticism; the interaction between the patron and courtiers and among the courtiers themselves; competition; genres as productive molds; the hegemonic literary taste; and the courtly habitus. This book reveals the significance these courts held as institutions that were at the heart of literary production in Arabic.

Using primary medieval Arabic sources, this book offers a comprehensive analysis of Islamic courts and as such is of key interest to students and scholars of Arabic literature, Islamic history and medieval studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1 Al-Ṣāḥib: A Potentate and Patron 2 The Courtiers 3 The Literary Field of the Court: Representative Genres 4 The Hegemonic Taste in the Literary Field 5 Al-Tawḥīdī at Al-Ṣāḥib’s Court: What Went Wrong? Conclusion Appendix: Al-Rustamī’s Mansion Ode

About the Author

Erez Naaman is Assistant Professor of Arabic at American University in Washington, DC. His research focuses on medieval Arabic literature and culture, and intellectual Islamic history.

About the Series

Culture and Civilization in the Middle East

This series studies the Middle East through the twin foci of its diverse cultures and civilizations. Comprising original monographs as well as scholarly surveys, it covers topics in the fields of Middle Eastern literature, archaeology, law, history, philosophy, science, folklore, art, architecture and language. While there is a plurality of views, the series presents serious scholarship in a lucid and stimulating fashion.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies