This article examines the term “condensation” (takṯīf) and its presence in Arabic poetry. It explains the meaning and importance of the term as well as its relation to the specific meanings poets seek to convey in the text. The study then searches for the mechanisms that create textual condensation, whose ratio is determined by condensation’s very presence in any given text. As a result of this study, this article will determine the factors that strengthen or weaken textual condensation in Arabic poetry.
To clarify how the mechanisms of condensation are employed in poems and how these mechanisms contribute to the meaning that we draw as readers of particular poems, we will apply our theoretical knowledge to two poems from two different periods. To obviate the effect of text length on condensation, we have chosen poems which contain a similar number of words: Muqāṭaʿa by Ḫalīl Muṭrān (1872–1949) and Raʾs by Sinān Anṭūn (born 1967). Our analysis will then determine which poem is more condensed and the reasons behind that condensation.
Feminist approaches and gender studies are among the most notable works devoted to the Thousand and One Nights. Šahrazād monopolizes the attention and is treated as a monolithic character, there are in fact several Šahrazāds, depending on the textual version considered. The one who learns history and has three children (ZER) is not the same as the one who learns medicine and has no children (G/Kayseri). On the other hand, Šahrazād would benefit from being reintegrated into her universe beside the other characters: in the Nights, a story can occur with male protagonists (The Second Shaykh) and be repeated with female protagonists (The Eldest Lady), or feature characters who biologically change their gender, through metamorphosis or, in their appearance, through disguise. Such behavioral variations can affect the entire population of the Nights, which new work proposes to approach in the manner of demographers, as has been practiced for illustrated albums (Brugeilles, Cromer, and Cromer) and as Françoise Lavocat’s research on the French novel shows. Now, with some adjustments (Katz; van Renterghem), it seems possible to transpose this type of approach to medieval Arabic literature and more particularly to the Thousand and One Nights.