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Zlitni, Muhammad L. (1978) A stylistic assessment of Abu Tammam's poetry. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The main object of this thesis is to assess the various techniques of poetic language in Classical Arabic as they appear in a particular corpus: the work of Abu Tammam. After a general introduction which is meant to put the poet and his production in the right historical and socio-cultural context, different aspects of his conservatism are dealt with (e.g. poetic register, archaism, dialectism), before introducing the concept of 'foregrounding' which will provide the rest of the analysis with Its theoretical framework. According to this principle, a work of art in general is marked by its deviation from norms. Such deviation is behind the element of interest and surprise which gives significance and value to a piece of art. In Abu Tammam's poetry, the foregrounded feature occurs in the form of parallelism or a deviation, and in both cases, it is picked out by the reader who will interpret it in relation to the background of the expected linguistic pattern. In the analysis, particular interest is concentrated on phenomena at various linguistic levels. In this way, parallelism in Abu Tammam's poetry is found to occur mainly on the formal level (i.e. grammatical, phonological, metrical), while deviation is of interest primarily when it occurs on the semantic level. Each level is dealt with separately in different chapters. Thus, chapter three is concerned with grammatical parallelism and its two facets in Abu Tammam's poetry: the syntactic and the lexical-semantic. Both are dealt with successively in relation to the structure of the single verse of Classical Arabic which is found to be the basic foundation of this type of parallelism. In chapter four, phonological parallelism is dealt with and such devices as alliteration, internal rhyme, and morpho-phonological correspondence are analysed in detail, after an attempt to assess the way they have been approached by the Arab scholars. Their contribution to the musicality of a piece of poetry as well as their expressive power are illustrated with examples from Abu Tammam's production. Metre, as an instance of foregrounded parallelism, is then looked into in chapter five. Here, the foundations of Arabic metres are first discussed before dealing with the distribution of metres in Abu Tammam's work. Then, the interaction of metre and 'prose rhythm' in his production is assessed, followed by a discussion of rhyme and its cohesive function. Finally, semantic deviation is analysed, and such features as semantic 'absurdity' and 'redundancy' in Abu Tammam's language are briefly dealt with, before looking into the figurative devices most typical of his style. Particular interest is concentrated on metaphor for its central position in his work, and reference is made at various occasions to the attitude of the Arab scholars towards his own use of figurative devices.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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