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This book is the first critical survey of the development and achievements of 'modern' Arabic poetry, here signifying the period from the latter half of the nineteenth century to the present day. It ranges over the entire Arabic-speaking world and includes a discussion of the work of poets who emigrated to the United States and Latin America. Four main stages are examined in the development of a specifically modern Arabic poetry: the 'neoclassical', in which poets turned to their literary heritage for their ideals and inspiration; the pre-romantic', which was marked by a tension between a modified classical style and new romantic sentiments, itself the reflection of a wider cultural movement towards change and modernization; the 'romantic', in which the tensions between form and content were resolved, and a lyricism and simplicity of language become the norm; and the 'modern' or 'contemporary' which is typified by a reaction against romanticism, and dominated by either committed social realism or symbolism and surrealism. In the absence of any similar published work in a European language, the book, as well as being designed for students of Arabic literature and of comparative literature, will also be of interest to the general reader. No knowledge of Arabic is presupposed: all the verse (newly translated by the author) is given in English translation, and technical terminology has been reduced to a minimum.
Preface; A note on transliteration and verse translations; 1. Introductory; 2. Neoclassicism; 3. The pre-romantics; 4. The romantics; 5. The emigrant poets; 6. The recoil from romanticism; 7. Epilogue; Notes; Index.