Balāġa, Epistolary Structure and Style

Adrian Gully

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

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653133 | DOI:
Balāġa, Epistolary Structure and Style

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This chapter focuses on the important epistolary aspects of the secretary's profession. It looks at some of the specific aspects of balāga (communicative eloquence), especially those of bayān (clarity of expression) that are particularly relevant to epistolography and the structure of letter-writing in the Islamic Middle period. While it is beyond the scope of the chapter to analyse exhaustively the way in which the vast array of tropes and literary devices available to the secretary are used in epistolary genre, it identifies a small number of devices that have drawn the attention of the most prominent literary critics, such as Ibn al-Atīr and al-Askarī, and which have reflected the unique structural and stylistic requirements of letter-writing. These devices form the basis of the discussion in the chapter. In addition, the chapter also discusses the significance of the etymology of a given word in official correspondence, as well as the role of Qur'anic and poetic citation in epistolary communication.

Keywords: balāga; communicative eloquence; bayān; clarity of expression; Ibn al-Atīr; al-Askarī; etymology; Qur'anic citation; poetic citation

Chapter.  20169 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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