Book

The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

Adrian Gully

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653133 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633739.001.0001
The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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Writing letters was an important component of intellectual life in the Middle Islamic period, telling us much about the cultural history of pre-modern Islamic society. This book offers an analysis of letter-writing, focusing on the notion of the power of the pen. The author looks at the wider context of epistolography, relating it to the power structures of Islamic society in that period, and also attempts to identify some of the similarities and differences between Muslim modes of letter-writing and those of western cultures. One of the strengths of the book is that it is based on a wide range of primary Arabic sources, thus reflecting the broader epistemological importance of letter-writing in Islamic society. The book evaluates the background to letter-writing as the principal representation of state documents and communication; takes a close look at the literary principles employed in that process; considers the important social and intellectual role of the secretary and how he fitted into the power structure of Islamic society during this period; argues that the voluminous collections of letters, written mainly in artistic prose, can be classified as an epistolary genre in their own right; and shows that Islamic letter-writing was very culture specific.

Keywords: intellectual life; Middle Islamic period; letter-writing; epistolography; power structures; Islamic society; Muslim; western cultures; Arabic

Book.  232 pages. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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Table of Contents

The Foundations of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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Epistolary Prose, Poetry and Oratory: Essentials of the Debate in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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The Power of the Pen and the Primacy of Script in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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The Composition Secretary (I): Background and Status in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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The Composition Secretary (II): Moral and Inner Qualities in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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Balāġa, Epistolary Structure and Style in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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Epistolary Protocol in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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Epilogue in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

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