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The development of a modern prose style in Arabic literature1

  • Pierre Cachia

Extract

The Arab literary establishment of the period immediately preceding the nineteenth century had reached such stability in social status, such homogeneity in education, and such unanimity in cultural values that it was no longer searching for innovative ideas, and of its men of letters—poets and prose writers alike—it expected not originality but consummate skill in the use of words. The prose that it favoured was not only rhymed, but laden with tropes, especially those developed in the branch of Rhetoric known as badī, which concerns itself not so much with imagery as with verbal artifices2 (such as the paronomasia, the double entendre, the palindrome) of which by then over 150 varieties had been devised.

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2 Technically known as ‘schemes’. See Cachia, P., ‘From sound to echo: the values underlying late badī literature’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108, 2, 0406 1988, 219–25.

3 Published in A.H. 1275/A.D. 1858-1859.

4 Άl-maqāma al-Mişriyya ' in Majma‘ al-Bahrayn (Beirut, Matba‘at al-Ābā’al-Yasūiyyīn, (1872), 220.

5 A leading member of the Banū Shaybān, said to have claimed a share of the booty even when he had not participated in a raid, and when humoured, to have asked for a share for his wife, then one for his camel.

6 By ‘Alī al-Darandah-1ī, ‘ al-Hawī’ al-Jawwī’, as quoted in Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ghanī, Hasan and ‘Abd al-‘Azīz, al-Disūqī, Rawdat al-Madāris: Nash'atuhā wa ’ttijāhātuhā ’l-Adabiyya wa ’l-’Ilmiyya (Cairo, al-Hay’a al-Misriyya al-‘Āmma li '1-Kitāb, 1975), 234.

7 Sulāfat al-Nadīm, vol. 1 (Cairo, Matba‘at al-Hindiyya, 1914), 24 ff.

8 Gibb, H. A. R., Studies in the civilization of Islam (London, 1962), 251.

9 Hāshim, Yāghī, al-Naqd al-Adabī al-Hadīth fī Lubnān, vol. 1 (Cairo, Ma‘ārif, 1968), 102.

10 The references that follow are from the edition of Naslb Wahlba al-Khazin (Beirut, Maktabat al-Iiaya, n.d.).

11 Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ghanī Hasan and ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Disūqī, op. cit., 63

12 See Cachia, P., ‘The use of the colloquial in modern Arabic literature’, JAOS, 87, 1, 1967, 1222.

13 Ahmad Samīr's introduction to Sulāfat al-Nadīm.

14 In ‘al-Lugha wa ’1-Inshā’’, al-Ustādh, Yr. 1, No. 9, 1892, 169–84.

15 Sulāfat al-Nadīm, vol. 2, 86.

16 Tahrār al-Mar'a (Cairo, Ma‘ārif, 1970), 114.

17 ‘Abd Allāh Salīm Yāzijī in al-Hilāl, Yr. 3, No. 17, 1895, 659.

18 Jurjī Zaydān, ‘Kuttāb al-‘Arabiyya wa Qurrā'uhā’, al-Hilāl, Yr. 6, No. 4, 1897, 126.

19 Jān Jāk Rūsū (Cairo, 1965), 210.

20 Al-Mu'allāfal al-Kāmila, ed. Salmā ’l-Haffār, al-Kuzbarī (Beirut, Mu’assasat Nawfal, 1982), vol. 2, 389.

21 Jamīl Jabr (comp.), Mayy Ziyāda fī Mudhakkarātihā, Dār al-Rīhānā, Kitāb al-Shahr, 6–7, n.d., 105–6.

22 Al-Nazarāt (Cairo, al-Maktaba al-Tijāriyya al-Kubrā, n.d.), vol. 1, 85.

23 See Jaroslav, Stetkevych, The modern Arabic literary language (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1970).

24 Al-Adab li ’l-Sha‘b (Cairo, Maktabat al-Anglū ’1-Mișriyya, 1956), especially p. 41.

25 Falsafat Ibn Khaldūn al-Ijtimā‘iyya (Muhammad ‘Abd Allāh ‘Inān's translation of ‘Étude analytique et critique de la philosophie sociale d’lbn Khaldoun’, Doctoral dissertation, University of Paris (Cairo, al-I‘timād, 1925), 28–9.

26 Interview in al-Talaba al-‘Arab, Yr. 5, No. 182, 1966.

27 Fusūl fī ’l-Adab wa ’l-Naqd (Cairo, Ma‘ārif, 1945), 2021.

28 Discussion at Fu’ād Academy of the Arabic Language, 26 12. 1949, reported in al-Risāla, Yr. 18, No. 863, 1950, 122–4.

29 Du‘ā’ al-Karawān (Cairo, Ma‘ārif, 1946), 40.

30 Fikrafa ’btisāma (Cairo, Dār al-‘Urūba, n.d.), 1415.

31 See e.g. Anwar, al-Jindī, al-Shu‘ūbiyya fī ’l-Adab al-‘Arabī al-Hadīth (Cairo, Dār al-I‘tiṣām, n.d., but not earlier than 1970), especially pp. 216, 221, and 229.

32 Mudhakkirāt Tālib Bi‘tha, Cairo, al-Kitāb al-Dhahabī, 11 1965, p. 9.

33 al-ṣafqa (Cairo, Maktabat al-Ādāb, [1965]).

34 Cairo, Maktabat al-Anglū ’1-Miṣriyya, 1960.

35 Cairo, al-Kitāb al-Dhahabī, February 1963.

36 Khuṭuṭ al-Ṭūl... Khuṭūū al-‘Arḍ (Beirut, Dār al-Ṭalī`a, 1983), 221.

37 Arḍ—Arḍ (Beirut, Dār al-Masīra), 1980, 62.

38 Awrāq Shābb ‘Āsha mundh Alf ‘Āmm (Cairo, Madbūlī, [1969]). Also al-Zaynī Barakāt (Cairo, Madbūlī, 1980), translated into French by Jean-François Fourcade (Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1985).

39 As in al-Ghītanīs, ‘Mudhakkira Idāhiyya hawl Wāqi‘a Raqm 106 Qism al-Jamāliyya’, in al- Ḥiṣār min Thalāth Jihāt (Damascus, Ittiḥād al-Kuttāb al-‘Arab, 1975), 119–35.

40 See Sasson, Somekh, Lughat al-Qissa fī Adab Yūsuf Idrīs (Acre, Tel-Aviv University and Sarūjī Press, 1984).

41 ‘ ‘Ala Waraq Silūfān’, in his Bayt min Laḥm (Cairo, ‘Ālam al-Kutuh, 1971), 37.

42 Chapter vii of Qā‘ al-Madīna, translated in In the eye of the beholder, ed. Roger, Allen (Minneapolis, Bibliotheca Islamica, 1978).

43 Muqaddima li ’l-Shi‘r al-‘Arabī (Beirut, Dār al-‘Awda, 1971), 100.

44 Al-Maqāmāt al-Aswāniyya (Cairo, Maktabat al-Anglū ’1-Miṣriyya, 1970), 2.

1 This article was written for The Cambridge history of Arabic literature, Vol. 4, ed. Mustafa Badawi (Cambridge: forthcoming). It will appear there in essentially the same form, but without the illustrations in Arabic script.

The development of a modern prose style in Arabic literature1

  • Pierre Cachia

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