1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabic Prose Literature

(Part 48)


(48) Arabic Literature - Arabic Prose Literature

Written prose up to the date of Mahomet’s appearance there was absolutely none; and spoken eloquence, though always highly esteemed and diligently cultivated among the Arabs, had never been embodied in the permanence of writing. The irregular, half-rhythmical, half-rhyming sentences of the Koran were the first attempt in the direction of prose, which afterwards came into general use, and was applied to history, biography, philosophical treatises, romance, and every other description of subject. But prose never emancipated itself wholly from its original trammels of a misapplied cadence, to which was also too often added a redundant phraseology, the latter partly due to Persian literary influence; this florid style being, however, with many authors varied by breaks, as it were, of writing as excessive in its plainness as the other in its ornamentation.

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Recommended Resources

Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present

by Bassam A. Frangieh

Anthology of Arabic Literature cover

"With its comprehensive coverage of the intellectual and literary Arab-Islamic heritage, this book will be very useful in advanced Arabic classes."—Mahdi Alosh, Ohio State University

"An excellent survey of the Arabic literary tradition, covering poetry, religious texts, grammar and linguistics, literary criticism, belles lettres, religious thought and philosophy, novels, and drama."—Jamal Ali, University of Pennsylvania

Book Description:
This book—the first comprehensive reader of Arabic literature from pre-Islamic times to the present—is an essential work for advanced students of the Arabic language. Presenting seventy works by seventy authors, it includes pre-Islamic poetry and prose; selections from the Qur’an; the Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon; writings from the “Golden Age of the Arabs” in philosophy, mysticism, prose, and poetry; works from the neoclassical, modernist, and metaphorical schools; literature of the Arabs in Andalus, Spain; and discussions of cultural, literary, critical, and political movements of the present day. Each selection is followed by a vocabulary list, a list of idioms and notes, and a set of questions about the text.

The book not only introduces students to the entire sweep of Arabic intellectual, political, and cultural thought but also gives examples of how this thought is expressed, offering important insights into the Arab mind.

Reader Comment:
"This ingenious anthology includes some of the greatest works of Arabic literature from pre-Islamic poet Imru' al-Qays to 20th century legend Nizar Qabbani.

All the texts include very useful vocabulary lists with idioms and expressions perfectly translated into English. Another special feature of the book is an audio CD with crystal clear sound and the voice of Bassam Frangieh smoothly reading selected texts.

The Arabic script is written in large, readable font throughout the book. This anthology also contains a few intriguing illustrations, a thorough glossary and a brief Literary History of the Arabs. Bassam Frangieh has truly done it all!

I recommend this book for all students and scholars who want to improve their Arabic skills, while reading some of the most fascinating literature ever written.

Bravo to Bassam Frangieh! Simply a beautiful book."

-- Gloria, California, USA

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