Chapter

Towards a Comparative Approach to Arabic Literature

Abdul-Nabi Isstaif

in Studying Modern Arabic Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2015 | ISBN: 9780748696628
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781474412254 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696628.003.0012
Towards a Comparative Approach to Arabic Literature

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This chapter calls for a study of Arabic literature from a comparative perspective, arguing that a comparative approach will help to undermine self-centricism and thus allow a more humanist perspective to dominate the field. Although comparative literature is meant to be ‘a discipline of tolerance’, the chapter accuses scholars on both sides of the divide of trying to deny the importance of this interaction in bringing about the changes we witnessed in the histories of Arabic and other world literatures. It cites one example of this intolerance: the West's continued refusal to acknowledge any role played by the Hispano-Arabic strophic poetry Muwashshah and Zajal in the emergence of the twelfth-century Troubadour songs. The chapter also considers one factor that justifies the need for a comparative approach to Arabic literature: the multi-cultural nature of the new Mahjar literatures produced by Arab writers all over the world in Arabic and other living languages.

Keywords: comparative literature; Arabic literature; self-centricism; world literature; Muwashshah; Zajal; Troubadour songs; Mahjar literature; Arab writers; strophic poetry

Chapter.  5662 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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