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Sperl, Stefan (1978) Mannerism in Arabic literature: A structural analysis of selected poetry 3rd century AH/9th century AD-5th century AH/11th century AD. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis contains six chapters; introduction, four chapters on selected works by four poets, and conclusion. The Arabic texts discussed are added as an appendix and numbered from I to XIX. Chapter One discusses the form and function of the panegyric qasida in the early Abbasid period. The organic unity of the individual poem is postulated in a structural model which serves as a working hypothesis for subsequent analyses. Chapters Two and Three contrast panegyrics by Buhturi (d. about 284 AH/897 AD) and Mihyar al-Daylami (d. 428 AH/ 1036 AD). Three poems by Buhturi are analysed with particular attention to the structural function of the initial section. A work by Mihyar, shown to follow similar principles of construction, is explored with respect to imagery. A comparison of two selected passages highlights stylistic differences between the two poets. Chapters Four and Five are devoted to ascetic poetry, contrasting the zuhdiyyat of Abu' l-'Atahiya (d. 213 AH/828 AD) and the Luzumiyyat of Abu'l-'Ala' al-Ma'arri (d. 449 AH/1058 AD). Chapter Four begins with a study of the origins of the zuhdiyya canon in the poetic tradition and its relation to the panegyric. Chapter Five focuses on the reinterpretation of the poetic tradition in Ma'arri's work. Both chapters conclude with the analysis of a selected text. Departing from the postulated unity of the individual poem, the analyses reveal the unity of the poetic corpus. The former is substantiated by recurring techniques of construction, the latter suggested by recurring motifs in contrasting contexts. It follows that the qasida, on the basis of one structural model, provides scope for combinations of motifs drawn from the entire poetic corpus. The analyses of chapters Two to Five provide the basis for a hypothesis on the nature of mannerism and classicism which the final chapter develops in reference to the debate on mannerism in Arabic literature. The hypothesis is tested by a return to the selected texts.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:27

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