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Arabic literature came to be recorded only after the advent of Islam, but it was already well-established and decidedly dominated by poetry. E.) links the creation of the ode to the remnants of this encampment and elucidates the ode's tripartite structure, including a ), because they were supposed to have won an annual contest at the Fair of ʿUkāẓ and were therefore hung up for all to view.

The Qurʿān itself is a literary , and down to the present day Islamic texts form a large part of the rich textual patrimony of the Arabo-Islamic world and continue to play an important role in the development of contemporary literature.

With the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988 to the Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, Arabic literature is poised to play a larger role on the world literary scene. “Poetry is the register of the Arabs,” states a well-worn Arabic aphorism.

Literary and cultural production was also stimulated by the opening of cultural channels and the circulation of ideas across an unprecedented geographical expanse. One of the literary genres dominating the Arabic prose corpus is an anecdotal form designed to be at once edifying and entertaining, known as is the ninth-century writer al-Jāḥiẓ (d. E.), who, alongside works on law and theology, wrote anthologies on such diverse topics as singers, donkeys, fools, great speeches, the characteristics of ethnic groups such as Turks, and the love of books.

Scholars and writers might begin their careers in what is today Portugal and end them on the banks of the Red Sea or the borders of the Hindu Kush. His ), describing champion skinflints and penny-pinchers, many from Khorāsān in Persia, satirizes those who lack the primary Arab cultural virtues, generosity and hospitality.

He then meets another young man who also seeks shelter from his own society, and the two, after an aborted attempt at setting this society on the right path, live happily on their own island. Another fascinating and original genre of medieval Arabic literature was the autobiography, including such famous examples as that of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. The premodern period also boasted other autobiographical sagas, among them that of the great twelfth-century Syrian warrior-writer Usāmah ibn Munqidh.

His story takes place during the Crusades, and some of his observations of Western combatants in his are by now classic.

The Sindbad legends were also translated into Spanish as , included a number of stories based on Arabic proverbs. From quite early in the development of Islamic orthodoxy, echoes of asceticism and mysticism could be heard.

Generally these came from individuals dissatisfied with what they perceived to be a loss of the personal dimension of the religious experience, buried as it had become under legalistic discussions and ritualized practice.

By the ninth century, both publication and readership exploded in cities like Baghdad, where there were reportedly over one hundred bookshops in the booksellers’ market. Not all poets, however, felt constrained to obey the sacred rules of the poetic genre; thus Abū Nuwās (d. E.) mocked the erotic prologue by addressing the opening of one of his poems to a tavern or suggesting, in another parodic twist of conventions, that one should tell the poet who stands at the deserted campsite and weeps over his lost love, “It wouldn't hurt if you sat down.” The irreverence of Abū Nuwās and others went much further, turning the poetry of yearning for a lost and inaccessible loved one on its head, and instead celebrating lust and sex with both men and women.

Authors could earn a living by writing entertaining works and anthologies for popular consumption, no longer beholden to rulers alone for patronage, and hired professional booksellers and copyists as their publicists. E.) became familiar literary names, as did that of the heroically inclined al-Mutanabbī (d. Numerous works have come down to us from the classical period of this highly sophisticated culture.

Medieval anecdotal literature was closely related to two other literary genres, the (loosely translated as “Séances”), executed in rhymed prose, involves a running gag in series of loosely connected episodes. E.) also made his name by writing in this genre, with two similar characters, the rogue Abū Zayd al-Sarūjī and the narrator al-Ḥārith ibn Hammām, although his literary constructions are more rhetorically fanciful than those of his predecessors, including epistles that could be read both forwards and backwards or in which the dotted and undotted letters of the Arabic alphabet alternated.