An Introduction to Arabic Literature by Professor Roger Allen

By Professor Roger Allen

Roger Allen presents a complete introductory survey of literary texts in Arabic, from their unknown beginnings within the 5th century advert to the current day, and from Islam's sacred textual content, the Qur'an, to well known literature together with The Arabian Nights and a wealth of poetry, narrative prose, drama and feedback. With wide quotations in English translation, a chronology and a consultant to additional interpreting, this revised and abridged model of Allen's acclaimed learn, The Arabic Literary history (CUP 1998), presents a useful scholar advent to an important non-Western literary culture.

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The growth of cities in the Arab world, and especially the emergence of the great Islamic centres – al-Bas·rah, Baghda¯d, Cairo, Qayrawa¯n, Fez, and Cordoba, for example – as sources of religious debate and intellectual dynamism, was to have a major impact on both urban and provincial life, frequently to the detriment of both. Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, is perhaps the most extreme example of this, in that fully one quarter of the inhabitants of the entire country live within the city’s boundaries.

From the outset, some regions adopted the language as their own mode of written communication: Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, for example. Others adopted Arabic as part of the process of conversion to Islam, but indigenous regional languages remained a powerful source of social cohesion – as with Berber in the Maghrib, for example. Persian and Turkish later reassumed their positions as the  An introduction to Arabic literature primary mode of cultural expression for their native speakers while Arabic maintained its canonical status within those spheres (such as the law) where the role of Islam retained its significance.

The region of Syria had witnessed a succession of conflicts and was divided into areas controlled by the Fa¯t·imı¯ dynasty of Egypt, the Orthodox Christian Emperor of Byzantium, and the Turkish dynasty of the Salju¯qs which had taken over the secular administrative authority in Baghda¯d (with the connivance of the Abba¯sı¯ caliph, al-Qa¯ im) in . By the end of the eleventh century the Salju¯qs had seized control of much of the region, including the Holy Places in Jerusalem, a situation that led the Byzantine Emperor to appeal to the Pope in Rome for aid.

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