How Do You Say “Epigram” in Arabic?: Literary History at the Limits of Comparison

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The qaṣīdah and the qiṭʿah are well known to scholars of classical Arabic literature, but the maqṭūʿ, a form of poetry that emerged in the thirteenth century and soon became ubiquitous, is as obscure today as it was once popular. These poems circulated across the Arabo-Islamic world for some six centuries in speech, letters, inscriptions, and, above all, anthologies. Drawing on more than a hundred unpublished and published works, How Do You Say “Epigram” in Arabic? is the first study of this highly popular and adaptable genre of Arabic poetry. By addressing this lacuna, the book models an alternative comparative literature, one in which the history of Arabic poetry has as much to tell us about epigrams as does Greek.
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Biographical Note

Adam Talib, DPhil (2014) Oxford, teaches Arabic language and literature at Durham University and is an assistant editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature. Before joining Durham, he taught at the American University in Cairo from 2012–2017.

Table of contents

Note to Readers
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Preamble: Growth and Graft

On Wholeness



1 A Bounding Line
2 The Sum of its Parts

Arabic Poetry, Greek Terminology



Preliminary Remarks
3 Epigrams in the World
4 Hegemonic Presumptions and Atomic Fallout
5 Epigrams in Parallax

Appendix
Annotated Bibliography of Unpublished Sources
Sources
Index

Readership

All interested in the history of Arabic poetry. Scholars and students of comparative and world literature, epigram, lyric poetry, and genre.

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