Beauty in Arabic Culture / Edition 1

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Doris Behrens-Abouseif's book provides a panorama of the concepts of beauty in classical and post-classical Arabic culture through the 15th century, drawing on Arabic texts from philosophy, theology, mysticism, poetry, and literary criticism as well as historiographic sources and tales from the Thousand and One Nights. Behrens-Abouseif elucidates the ways in which beauty was measured by the degree of pleasure it elicited in the recipient, an attitude that anticipates modernity in both East and West.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Although the arts were appreciated and promoted throughout the Arabic-Muslim world for centuries, there were no theoretical writings on the arts similar to those in classical Europe. However, as is the case in premodern and traditional cultures, the absence of aesthetic theory in Arab culture did not preclude the awareness of the link between beauty and art, beauty for pleasure, and moral beauty. In this analysis of the Arabic discourse on beauty in architecture, decorative arts, music, and literature, Behrens-Abouseif (Univ. of Munich) provides a variety of examples of the concepts of beauty in classical Arabic-Muslim culture through the 15th century. She draws on primary Arabic texts (such as the use of erotic metaphor in the work of Sufi mystic poets) to show that artistic work was not always associated only with the metaphysical and the divine. Originally written in German, this book offers a thoroughly original and comprehensible explanation of the artistic and aesthetic legacy of a little-understood culture. Highly recommended for all collections.--Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY
A specialist in Islamic architecture and social history, Behrens-Abouseif (U. of Munich) surveys the concepts of beauty in classical and post-classical Arabic culture through the 15th century CE, drawing on Arabic texts in philosophy, theology, mysticism, poetry, literary criticism, historiography, and the . She shows how beauty was measured by the degree of pleasure it elicited in the recipient. The original German nheit in der Arabischen Kultur/> was published by C. D. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Munich, in 1998. Paper edition (199-3), $22.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558761995
  • Publisher: Wiener, Markus Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Series: Princeton Series on the Middle East
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Religious Approach 9
The Image of the World 11
The Koran and the Universe 17
Ghazali, the Sufi Way, and the Symbolism of Light 22
Al-Ghazali 22
The Sufi Way 25
The Symbolism of Light 31
Secular Beauty and Love 35
Proportion, Harmony, and the Psychological Factor 37
Nature and Artifice 44
Fauna 52
Human Beauty 56
Love 66
Music and Belles Lettres 71
Music 73
Belles-Lettres 83
Context 83
Literary Criticism 95
Originality 99
Imagination 102
The Visual Arts 105
The Status of the Arts 107
The Significance of Artistic Beauty 124
The Decorative Themes 135
Images 135
Calligraphy 138
Arabesque and Geometry 141
Architecture and Decoration 148
Unity, Diversity, and Transmission of Knowledge 155
Regalia and Luxury 159
Building or Architecture? 165
Conclusion 181
Notes 187
Bibliography 197
Literature in European Languages 197
Literature in Arabic 205
Biographical Notes 208
Index 213
Photo Credits 220
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