James Monroe

Abstract

This article subjects Ibn Quzmān's Zajal 20 to a critical analysis, showing that, like other Quzmānī poems, its thematic structure is chiastic. Insofar as structure and meaning are two fundamental and interrelated components in any given literary work, the poem's structure further leads us from its surface buffoonery into its deeper levels of significance. Zajal 20, which purports to be a panegyric, actually subverts that genre by breaking several of the rules of poetic composition prescribed by Arabic rhetoricians. Through his violation of these rules, the poet offers an ironic critique of certain corrupt legal practices prevalent in his day.

Series:

James Monroe

Although the Arabic maqāmah, a branch of the picaresque genre, was much cultivated in the Middle Ages, little is known about it aside from the works of al-Hamadhānī and al-ḥarīrī, its first two cultivators. This translation of the Maqāmāt al-luzūmīyah by the twelfth-century Andalusi
author al-Saraqustī makes available to Western scholars of narrative prose a hitherto little-known but important collection of Arabic maqāmāt.
The "Preliminary Study" places this specific collection in the context of the overall maqama genre, it further places that genre in the contexts both of Arabic and of world literature, exploring the differences between the picaresque genre and the modern novel. It discusses the meaning of the work, shows the way in which it is original within its genre, and
establishes its organic unity. Finally, it shows that late and post-classical Arabic literary works such as that of al-Saraqustī, which were composed during the so-called "period of decadence," are not decadent at all, contrary to the opinion prevalent among scholars in the field.

James Monroe and Mark Pettigrew

Abstract

This article begins with a detailed structural analysis of "Zajal 90" by the Andalusī poet Ibn Quzmān (d. 555/1160). On the basis of this analysis, It is concluded that the poem employs irony to condemn the anti-Berber prejudice prevalent among native Andalusīs in Almoravid-ruled twelfth-century al-Andalus. It is also pointed out that the poem shares a number of key features with the maqāma genre, and may, in fact, be viewed as a maqāma in verse. The article then ascribes the invention of the maqāma genre by al-Hamadānī (358/969-398/1008) in the East, as well as its cultivation by al-Saraqustī (d. 538/1143) in the West, to two separate but parallel crises in literary patronage that took place (1) when the Persian-speaking Buwayhids reduced the Arab Abbāsid caliphs to puppets in Iraq (334/945), and (2) when the Berber-speaking Almoravids deposed the Arabic-speaking mulūk al-tawā if (448/1056) in al-Andalus. The article concludes by drawing a parallel between the above crises in literary patronage, and the rise of the shadow play, as it was cultivated by Ibn Dāniyāl (d. 710/1310), in late thirteenth-century Egypt, under the régime of the Mamlūk Sultan Baybars I (r. 658/1260-676/1277). Finally, the article attempts to illustrate how certain crises in literary patronage - resulting in the abandonment of the courtly, panegyrical qasīda - often led to extremely creative attempts at incorporating popular genres into the canon of formal Arabic literature.

Douglas Young and James Monroe

James T. Monroe

Abstract

As is the case with many other civilizations, the cultural heartlands of the classical Arab-Islamic world have often tended to be more progressive and innovative than its outlying, marginal regions. The latter, in contrast, have sometimes tended to be more conservative. For this reason, when Ibn Quzmān, in Andalus, raised the native, popular, and colloquial zajal form to a higher literary level than it had previously enjoyed in his homeland, his work found greater acceptance in Baghdad than it did in the far West of the Islamic world. With one notable exception, Andalusi and North African scholars and critics, while they could not categorically deny that poet’s remarkable literary achievements, all tended to downplay them, by highlighting instead, passages from his classical Arabic production in verse and in prose (none of which has survived, aside from the handful of fragments they quote), while at the same time ignoring his zajals to the best of their ability. Like their Greek predecessors, however, these critics were prescriptive, not descriptive. Thus, they did not possess the adequate vocabulary with which to express their appreciation for, or understanding of, the significance of Ibn Quzmān’s strophic compositions in the colloquial dialect. This article analyses one poem by Ibn Quzmān (Zajal 96), and compares it to a classical composition by Abū Nuwās (the Andalusi poet’s Eastern predecessor and deeply admired literary role model), in an attempt to identify some of those virtues the Maghrebi critics failed to define in his work.