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Framing Iberia

Maqāmāt and Frametale Narratives in Medieval Spain

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David Wacks

Framing Iberia is a study of medieval Iberian culture observed through the lens of the frametale, a type of story collection cultivated by medieval Iberian authors in several languages. Its best known examples outside of Iberia are Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio’s Decameron, and the Thousand and One Nights. In Framing Iberia the author relocates the Castilian classics El Conde Lucanor and El Libro de buen amor within a literary tradition that includes works in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and Romance. In doing so, he draws on current critical theory and cultural studies in reevaluating how the multicultural society of medieval Iberia is reflected in its narrative literature. Winner of the 2009 La corónica International Book Award for scholarship in Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Also available in paperback ISBN 978 9004 20589 5
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David Wacks

Abstract

While not written for performance, works of medieval Arabic literature such as Ibn al-Muqaffa''s Kalīla wa-Dimna and al-Saraqustī's al-Maqāmāt al-luzūmiyya are extremely performative in nature, in that their structure is determined by representation of acts of performance. This is achieved either explicitly, by describing the performer or storyteller in the act of performing, or implicitly, by citing a performance carried out as part of a chain of narrative transmission, as in the isnād of a hadīt. The ways in which narrative performance is represented in these texts are reflective of the culture of performance and attitudes toward different types of performances that obtained in medieval Islam. Ibn al-Muqaffa' was a pioneer in the introduction of literary prose narrative to Arabic literature. He paved the way for later innovators such as al-Hamadhānī and al-Saraqustī, who brought literary fiction to Arabic literature by adapting traditionally accepted modes of oral narrative transmission into literary prose.

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Linde M. Brocato and David Wacks

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Linde M. Brocato and David M. Wacks