"Even for more advanced students and scholars, the poems juxtaposed to the historical context offer a useful framework for thinking about poetry and history together over a wide range of space and time."—Journal of Near Eastern Studies
"This innovative work should provoke much discussion among Arabic and Middle Eastern literature scholars."—Choice
"Provides readable and sensible essays on the poems, giving ample and illuminating attention to their backgrounds"—Speculum
"One of the most important books to have been written in the field in a very long time. . . . Farrin is not only a conscientious scholar, but also a very refined and sensitive literary critic."—James T. Monroe
Abundance from the Desert provides a comprehensive introduction to classical Arabic poetry, one of the richest of poetic traditions. Covering the period roughly of 500-1250 c.e., it features original translations and illuminating discussions of a number of major classical Arabic poems from a variety of genres. The poems are presented chronologically, each situated within a specific historical and literary context. Together, the selected poems suggest the range and depth of classical Arabic poetic expression; read in sequence, they suggest the gradual evolution of a tradition. Moving beyond a mere chronicle, Farrin outlines a new approach to appreciating classical Arabic poetry based on an awareness of concentric symmetry, in which the poem’s unity is viewed not as a linear progression but as an elaborate symmetrical plot. In doing so, the author presents these works in a broader, comparative light, revealing connections with other literatures. The reader is invited to examine these classical Arabic works not as isolated phenomena—notwithstanding their uniqueness and their association with a discrete tradition—but rather as part of a great multicultural heritage.
This pioneering book marks an important step forward in the study of Arabic poetry. At the same time, it opens the door to this rich tradition for the general reader.
Raymond Farrin is assistant professor of Arabic at the American University of Kuwait. His articles have been published in such journals as the Journal of Arabic Literature and the Muslim World.
6 x 9, 392 pages