A Formal Foundation for Comparative Study of the Late Persianate

In: Philological Encounters
Levi Thompson Department of Middle Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas USA

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This article addresses poetic form as a foundation bridging the literary contexts of Arabic and Persian that exists beyond the bounds of Euro-American influence. We find the originally Arabic science of ʿarūḍ, prosody, used in these two contexts to retool premodern poetic form for the modern era. Questions of form encourage us to think about how modernist poets writing in Persian and Arabic approach their poetry as a craft that emerges not out of engagements with Western literature but rather from a shared poetic past. By tracing formal links across Arabic and Persian, this article argues that paying attention to the premodern tradition of prosodic science they share helps us both to understand the early development of modernist poetry in each language and to avoid explanations informed mostly by literary critical frameworks used to study Western literatures.

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