"In this analysis of the great Arabic language classics, the pre-Islamic ode, or qasidah, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych ventures into such various fields as anthropology, religion, gender studies, history, philology, and folklore to augment her effectiveness as a literary theorist. Combining insights gleaned using the tools of these many disciplines, she has produced a brilliantly original and thought provoking analysis. . . . By giving voice to the mute immortals, Stetkevych has made these pre-Islamic masterworks accessible to a wider readership. In shedding much-needed light on these poems, the ethos of which has suffused the Arabic literary tradition since the beginning of Islam, Stetkevych has opened a door to understanding the Arab world."American Anthropologist
The Mute Immortals Speakby Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych
A body of Bedouin oral poetry which was collected in the second or third Islamic century, the pre-Islamic qasidah, or ode, stands with the Qur'an as a twin foundation of Arabo-Islamic literary culture. Throughout the rich fifteen-hundred-year history of classical Arabic literature, the qasidah served as profane anti-text to the sacred text of the/b>/b>
A body of Bedouin oral poetry which was collected in the second or third Islamic century, the pre-Islamic qasidah, or ode, stands with the Qur'an as a twin foundation of Arabo-Islamic literary culture. Throughout the rich fifteen-hundred-year history of classical Arabic literature, the qasidah served as profane anti-text to the sacred text of the Qur'an.
While recognizing the esteem in which Arabs have traditionally held this poetry of the pagan past, modern critics in both East and West have yet to formulate a poetics that would provide the means to analyze and evaluate the qasidah. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych here offers the first aesthetics appropriate for this orally composed Arabic verse, an aesthetics that is built onand tested onclose readings of a number of the poems.
Drawing on the insights of contemporary literary theory, anthropology, and the history of religions, Stetkevych maintains that the poetry of the qasidah is ritualized in both form and function. She brings to bear an extensive body of lore, legend, and myth as she interprets individual themes and images with references to rites of passage and rituals of sacrifice. Her English translations of the poems under discussion convey the power and beauty of the originals, as well as a sense of their complex intertextuality and distinctive lexicon.
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