NMC103H1S - Islamic lit lecture

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Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Course Code
Maria Subtelny

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NMC103H1S Islamic Literatures: Themes and Variations Feb 26, 2013 Discussion—story from ancient Arabian culture—ancient Romeo & Juliet1 Arabic literature (8 c.—) th • 23standard, literary Arabic—closely related to classical Arabic, and Qur’anic Arabic • grew out of adab concept—the ‘how tos’ of cultural behaviour; etiquette o 4 • poetry : 5 o purpose poem (qasida): panegyrical or satirical (Mutanabbi ) 6 o wine and love poetry (Abu Nuwas)  wine poetry more for court setting (patron)  common people would read them and still enjoy them  love and wine poetry later became mysticized (and erotic), and metaphor for intoxication and love of 7 God • prose: o didactic, moralizing (translation from Persian, Greek, Syriac) o animal fables (Kalila wa Dimna ) 8 o popular religious: legends of prophets, narratives of Muhammad’s ascension  some legends from Christian, Biblical accounts  also narratives of Muhammad’s heavenly ascension 9 • entertaining tales (1001 Nights); rhymed prose (Maqamat) o some go back to Gilgamesh (ancient Mesopatamia) 1goes back to Urdu, Turkish, etc. 2oral tradition important at the time, and continued to be 3written tradition becomes very important w/ intro to Arabic script, though for nomadic culture, oral 4radition remains primary (unlike Ottoman, Tukic) 5predominant genre—more than prose praise (for) 6praises himself and his patron in his poetry, very well-written and witty—done improv 7modern parallel is cultural influence of rap—“the epic poetry of our time” 8practical wisdom, definitely moralizing, how to behave with kings; very Machiavellian (how to survive as a ruler) 9 all prophets ascend to heaven o some go back to Iran (are frame tales—story about young woman who has to tell a story every night to survive, and stories within that frame tale) o Cosmological works (referred to as mirabilia), historical writing, etc. o value of this literature was very high Kalila wa Dimna (book) • Sanskrit Panchatantra 10 > • Middle Persian ca. 570 AD> 11 • then Arabic trans. by Ibn al-Muqaffa’ (d. 757)> • then trans. Syriac, Greek, Persian, Hebrew, Turkish • then Urdu (back to India!) • then trans. into Old Spanish > Latin > • German, Italian, English, French (finds way into tales of La Fontaine) • window into cultural values* • Dimna—jackal—always causing trouble • meant to illustrate situations (problems), for one, in court setting o Tale of the Fox and
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