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The Anthologist’s Art

Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī and His Yatīmat al-dahr

Series:

Bilal Orfali

Why did premodern authors in the Arabic-Islamic culture compile literary anthologies, and why were these works remarkably popular? How can an anthology that consists of reproduced material be original and creative, and serve various literary and political ends? How did anthologists select their material, then record and arrange it?

This book examines the life and works of Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī (350–429/961–1039), an eminent anthologist from Nīshāpūr, paying special attention to his magnum opus, Yatīmat al-dahr ( The Unique Pearl), and its sequel, Tatimmat al-Yatīma ( The Completion of the Yatīma). This book is a direct window on to an anthologist’s workshop in the second half of the fourth/tenth century. It examines the methodological consciousness expressed in Thaʿālibī’s selection and arrangement, and his sophisticated system of internal references and cross-references to other works; how he selected from his contemporaries’ oeuvres; how he sought, recorded, memorized, misplaced, and sometimes lost or forgot his selections; how he scrutinized the authenticity of material, accepting, questioning, or rejecting its attribution; and the errors and inconsistencies that resulted from this process.

Farāmarz, the Sistāni Hero

Texts and Traditions of the Farāmarznāme and the Persian Epic Cycle

Series:

Marjolijn van Zutphen

In Farāmarz, the Sistāni Hero Marjolijn van Zutphen discusses the manuscripts, storylines and main themes of the shorter and the longer Farāmarznāme (c. 1100), in relation to Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāme and several other later maṡnawis about the warriors from Sistān (the Persian Epic Cycle). Farāmarz, a secondary figure of the Shāhnāme, gained importance in later epic traditions and as the invincible protagonist of both Farāmarznāmes reached a status that equalled, if not surpassed, that of his famous father Rostam.
Van Zutphen further shows how Farāmarz displays parallels to the fictional figures of Garshāsp (his ancestor) and Eskandar and argues that some story elements of Farāmarz’s Indian conquest may be rooted in historical events from both the Parthian and the Ghaznawid period.

The Essential Rokeya

Selected Works of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932)

Series:

Edited by Mohammad Quayum

In The Essential Rokeya, Mohammad A. Quayum brings together, for the first time, some of the best work by one of South Asia’s earliest and most heroic feminist writers and activists, who was also a leading figure of the Bengal Renaissance in the nineteenth and early twentieth century – Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932). This collection includes Rokeya’s most popular story, Sultana’s Dream, and some essays and letters written originally in English, as well as Quayum’s own translation of several of her fiction and non-fiction works written originally in Bengali. This will enable readers outside Bangladesh and West Bengal to appraise and appreciate Rokeya’s fundamental role in the feminist awakening in South Asia, especially among the Bengali Muslims of her time.