Arabic Literary Theory and Criticism

Classical criticism and theory. The Arabic literary tradition has preserved critical statements that are as old as Arabic literature itself. The earliest critical remarks form part of the anecdotal heritage ascribed either to the poets themselves or to some important persons in Arab history. (The adjective “Arab” here is used to refer to the people, while “Arabic” refers to the language, and “Arabian” refers to the Arabian peninsula only.) These early critical remarks are primarily impressions and based on taste; they did not develop systematically for a long period of time, mainly because of the oral nature of the society. In some cases one can discern a synthetic and generalizing attitude. Overall impressions, not reasoned arguments, are expressed; feelings about poetry are offered in a language that is very similar, if not identical, to that of poetry itself. In other instances we see concrete critiques of the misuse of language or of imagery. But all of this is generally an instrument to compare poets with each other and to judge the merits of each (‘Abbás 13 ff.; Ibrahim 19-58; Sallâm 1:74 ff.). This is because of the special position attained by poets in pre-Islamic society, where the more prominent (e.g., al-Nabighah al-Dhubyani) “chaired” meetings that took place in the large markets and judged poets and poetry during the four months of peace each year in which it was prohibited to fight among tribes, a custom that provided the opportunity for trade, festivals, sporting competitions, gambling, drinking, and the recital or singing of poetry. (Because most of the pre-Islamic and classical Arabic literary output that had a privileged status in Arab-Islamic culture was in verse form, the concept “poetry” can be safely used to refer to literature altogether. Prose never attained a status comparable to that of poetry, not even in the twentieth century; theories of prose were generally derived from those about poetry—the literary was the poetic.)

The impact of Islam on Arabic literature and literary criticism was vast. One issue that remains puzzling is how literature not only survived the attacks of the Koran and Prophet Muhammad but also flourished and attained a status as high as or even higher than it had prior to Islam. Poetry was also able to negotiate for itself a space within society that was for a long period relatively free of religious coercion or interference. Such outstanding critics as al-Asmai (d. c. 830), Ibn Jinnl (d. 1001), al-Sûlî (d. 946), and al-Qadi al-Jurjânl (d. 1001) could state that great poetry was associated with unbelief and that the religious attitude only weakened poetry (examples of this were some poets who converted to Islam during the times of the Prophet but whose poetry after conversion was considered inferior to their poetry before it). These critics were not marginal, and some were authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence. For the most part, however, criticism remained a marginal activity of grammarians, philologists, or hermeneuts. Only in the ninth century did criticism start to attain an autonomous status as a legitimate intellectual and scholarly activity, and by the tenth century it developed into an institution that had a privileged status even vis-à-vis poetry itself. But literary theory and criticism bore the pangs and scars of its birth, and for this reason it is important to understand how literary criticism developed in its earlier stages.

Arabic pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry was transmitted orally. This explains why only recent pre-lslamic poetry was known during the period of collection and recording that began around the beginning of the eighth century. Organized literary-critical activity had its origins within the context of collecting this poetry. Different transmitters gave different versions of a poem, thereby leading to a controversy concerning its correct wording. Criticism was thus from the beginning text-centered, philological, and grammatical. The philological and grammatical activities were also related to religious issues. One of the results of the rise of competing and conflicting religious and social groups within Islam was conflicting interpretations of the holy text, the Koran. Pre-lslamic poetry functioned in this respect as the most important linguistic and semantic frame of reference for the interpretation of the Koranic text. The knowledge of poetry was an integral part of the knowledge of language and grammar that was the basis for Islamic hermeneutics. And naturally, these fields were studied jointly. The study of literature started within such a context. There was little to say about the nature of poetry or literary theory within such a paradigm.

By the end of the eighth century the civilizing process within the Islamic empire made its impact felt on almost all aspects of life. The urbanization of the Arabs in the new and old cities of the empire turned the Bedouin element into a small minority. This was a part of the larger process in the Abbasid period by which the empire became a multiethnic and multicultural society, which witnessed the full development of the state and its institutions. The interaction with other, more developed civilizations—Persian, Byzantine, Greek, Indian, and Eastern Christian—accompanied by the quick adoption of Islam by large numbers of the non-Arab population, many of whom soon made Arabic their language of expression due to the Arabization of state records, made it imperative for the Arabs and Muslims to preserve their traditions, especially as they still retained power as the ruling elite. It was within the eighth century that literacy and literate culture developed, including the concept of the book, that of adab (which in modern Arabic means “literature” but at this time covered what we now call the humanities), and the new and more differentiated concepts of the intellectual, the kátib (the professional writer in a court), and the poet.

This period paved the way for the institutionalization of literary criticism as an autonomous activity independent of yet in apposition to philology, grammar, rhetoric, theology, and so on. During this period the concepts and terms of criticism (i.e., its discursive formation) took shape. The principles of Arabic prosody took on their authoritative form in the studies of al-Khalil Ibn Ahmad (718-86). Following him, literary-critical terms used by philologists and early critics were mostly derived from Bedouin life—especially such terms as those for “tent,” “camel,” and “horse”—which shows the close association of critical studies with early Arabic poetry (‘Abbas 27). A “theory” of genres of Arabic poetry was also developed in terms of the “aims” or “objectives” (funun or aghrad) of poetry. Because lyrical poetry was the only kind of Arabic poetry, genre theory was based on content or subject matter rather than on form. In its initial stage there were four genres of poetry: panegyric (ritha’), invective (hija’), love (ghazal), and vainglorious (fakhr) poetry. These later became five by the addition of the elegy (ritha’) and then six by that of descriptive (wasf) poetry. This theory of genre remained dominant until the nineteenth century, although some critics attempted to add new themes (or “aims”) or to divide old genres, such as love poetry, into two or more categories. A theory of genre for prose had to wait until the tenth century.

The main characteristics of Arabic literary criticism until the beginning of the ninth century can be summarized as follows. Criticism was dependent on taste, which was thought to become refined by the quantitative knowledge of poetry. Literary criticism was anecdotal and segmental; that is, it was centered on a line or a small number of lines of poetry and not on the whole poem. One cannot discern any attempt to work out general criteria for the understanding and interpretation of poetry other than basic grammatical and philological ones. Last but not least, criticism was generally concerned with the problem of innovation as well as that of the models of excellence, which were considered to be mainly the older pre-lslamic poetry.

By the ninth century the influence of the native philosophical traditions, especially those of the Mu’tazilites (a group of rationalists in Islamic theology) and that of Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle, came to be felt in all fields of intellectual activity. Although these factors provided some of the impulses behind the development of criticism during those two centuries, the changes in sensibility and in literary production were the driving force behind the rise of critical practice and theory. Innovative poets such as Abu Nuwas (762-813) and Bashshar (714-84) were a challenge to the critical activity of early critic-grammarian-philologists, but the battle surrounding Abu TammSm (796-843) and al-Buhturi (821-79), which was in many ways a battle between two conceptions of poetry, lasted for many decades but was later “forgotten” with the rise of the new challenge of al-Mutanabbl (915-65), arguably the greatest of all Arab poets.

The first attempts to develop a systematic study of poetry started around the end of the ninth century, and by the tenth century the study of poetry became a prestigious activity to which whole treatises and books could be devoted. It is impossible to attempt to provide a comprehensive history of classical Arabic criticism. Instead we will discuss some of the basic problems that were at the center of critical activities.

The problem of the old and the new was one of the earliest issues in Arabic criticism. But recent research shows that critics were not generally proponents of the old against the new, as Reynold Nicholson, Taha Husayn, and Muhammad Mandur, among others, maintained. Many critics sided with the new, while many who sided with the old either neglected or were explicitly critical of some older pre-Islamic poetry, although a few were grammarians and philologists, such as Ibn Jinni. But the issue of the old and the new soon turned into a battle between the proponents of Abu Tammam and his opponents, who thought highly of al-Buhturi. Both stuck to the classical meter, yet Abu Tammam’s poetry contained a new type of metaphoric language and placed much emphasis on technique (san’ah), while that of al-Buhturi was nearer to the old conventions but was considered more natural (matbu’). The competition between these poets is responsible for the development of a new and important genre of criticism called al-muwazanah, “comparison,” as seen in the writings of al-Suli (d. 946) and al-Amidi (d. 980). This battle as well, and the one to follow it around al-Mutanabbi (al-Qadi al-Jurjani [d. 1001], al-Hatimi [d. 998], ibn Wakl’ [d. 1002], and ibn Jinni [d. 1001]), was instrumental in shifting the emphasis of criticism to the meticulous analysis of poetry, especially its imagery and metaphors, and to demonstrations of the influence of one poet over the other. Influence, however, was conceived in negative terms and dubbed as theft (sariqat). But most critics related influence to the relationship between form and content (al-lafz wa-al-ma’na).

Despite resorting to this dichotomy, all critics now paid more attention to form. There were probably two root theories for approaching this problem. One had its origins with al-jahiz (d. 868), who was a Mu’tazilite and who said that meanings or contents were readily available in every walk of life but what really mattered in literature was form or composition. Others, such as ibn Qutaybah (d. 889), gave equal status to both and developed a four-part taxonomy based upon good and bad meaning and good and bad form. Many critics, such as ibn Tabâfaba (d. 933) and ibn Rashlq (d. 1063), attempted to look at meaning and form as inseparable but were not successful because they started by acknowledging the two as separate entities. The most ingenious attempt at resolving this dichotomy was that of Abd al-Qâhir al- Jurjâni (d. 1078). Although the germs of his attempt can be found in al-Jâhiz, his theory of composition (nazm) gave expression to the idea that although meanings are available to every eye and mind, there is another, more sophisticated and higher level of meaning that is present only in composition. Any composition is a creation of meaning, and every single detail or change in composition necessarily entails a change in meaning or content (Abbas 419-38 and Abu Deeb).

The issue of the unity of the poem and/or the independence of each line was never conceived of in the Western Romantic parameters of organic unity. Although many critics pointed to the possible independence of the lines, most critics looked at the poem as a unit. Despite the different “aims” or themes of single parts of the poem, critics emphasized the importance of the transition (husn al-takhallus) from one theme to another. One can also find the poem compared to the human body, and the lines to its different organs (al-Hatimi and Ibn Rashiq), which is a possible Aristotelian influence.

Contrary to many academic and popular conceptions, especially in the West, Islam had little direct impact on the development of literary production, with the exception of religious (especially Sufi) and ascetic poetry. Although some critics associated good poetry with ethical or religious ideals, the more dominant tendency among critics was to dissociate poetry from religion or morals. Many scholars also rejected the idea of judging the poetry by the poet’s behavior or beliefs. This was a double strategy for preserving the high status of pre-Islamic poetry and for defending the greatest poets of the language, many of whom were known for their irreligious or heretic beliefs and practices (‘Umar ibn Abî Rabî’ah, Abu Nuwas, and al-Mutanabbi, to name only a few).

Another central problem for literary critics was the relationship between poetry and truth. Here one can discern two main trends. The first followed the native tradition of the Mu’tazilites, which emphasized the importance of truth. Ibn Tabâfaba, for example, emphasized the truth of imagery, the poet’s feelings, and the poem itself as prerequisites for good poetry. This was part and parcel of his theory of symmetrical harmony as the basis of beauty, according to which truth is what achieves the harmony, which in turn constitutes the beauty of the poem. This view was accepted by later critics such as ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjanl, who revised it to accommodate imagination, although the latter was ranked second in matters of excellence.

The second trend was influenced by Aristotelian poetic theory as it was interpreted by the Arabs, namely, as a part of the Organon, or the books of logic. Qudamah’s (d. 948) position provides an extreme example of associating poetry with lies: he described the best poetry as that which is richest in lies. That attitude was also common among many critics who were not influenced by the Aristotelian, or logical, school. Only the philosophers, and following them, Hazim, were able to resolve the issue of truth and poetry in a convincing manner.

Philosophers and Poetic Theory

Following the late Alexandrian school, Arab philosophers considered the Poetics an essay on method like all the other logical books of Aristotle. Yet, since method itself was a “faculty” without “content,” like all sciences of the Organon, it would lead to a “contentless” theory of poetry, or as O. B. Hardison called it, a “context theory” of poetics (Preminger et al. 342). Because each logical faculty “was supposed to be distinguished from the others by its use of a unique logical device, the inclusion of Poetics in the Organon shifted emphasis from ‘imitation/ the key term in the Greek poetics, to the ‘device’ which differentiates poetry from its sister faculties” (342). This special logical device in poetry came to be called the “poetic syllogism” or “syllogismus imaginativus” (342; Walzer 131). This was the starting point for Arab-Islamic philosophers, but they could not treat poetry as contentless or as only a logical faculty.

Al-Farabi (d. 950) reinterpreted the late Alexandrian Aristotle by trying to reconnect poetics with grammar and by emphasizing poetry’s function in society. We can observe a clear shift of emphasis from his early conception of poetic statements as completely false to a later conception of poetry based upon imitation and meter. He insisted that meter alone does not produce poetry, but imitation without meter produces what he called “poetic discourse” (qawl shi’riy). He subsumed the method of poetic creation under the concept of imitation and the process of reception under the concept of takhyil, “imaginative representation.” Takhyil meant invoking in the minds of listeners the image of something itself or the image of something in something else, the goal being to stimulate the listener to do the thing imagined, since people tend to follow their imagination or opinion rather than their reason. On the other hand, al-Farabi subsumed the concept of poetic text (diction and the sciences of meter and rhyme) under linguistics. The concept of poetic syllogism, being the central concept, was the connecting thread that explained imitation (poetic production) and its function and therefore could be considered the essence of poetry. Al-Farabi classified poets into three groups: those with a natural disposition, who are not syllogizing in the real sense; the syllogizing poets; and those who imitate. Despite his great attachment to logic, he could not but reiterate the traditional Arabic attitude that “the best poetry is that which is natural.”

Ibn Sina/Creative Commons

Ibn Sina (980-1037), known as Avicenna in the West, defined poetry as imaginatively representational discourse consisting of rhythmic and equipoised locutions, which among the Arabs are also rhymed. Yet the central point for the logician is that poetry is imaginatively representational discourse. Whether poetry was true or false became marginal, as mimetic activity in poetry aimed at takhyil, “invoking images and moving to action,” based on ta’jlb, “invoking wonder or surprise.” The importance of Greek poetry, according to Ibn Slna, was that it had a “civil purpose,” that is, a social aim and function. Arabic poetry, on the other hand, had one of two functions, or both, namely, ta’jlb and a civil purpose. The civil purpose could be deliberational, disputational, or epideictic, all of which are common to poetry and rhetoric. While rhetoric employed means of persuasion, poetry used imaginative representation. Ibn Sina saw poetry as both imaginatively representational and metrical, but he added that one can have discourses that are prosaic but imaginatively representational and others that are metrical but not imaginatively representational. Neither of these was poetry. Imitation, according to him, can have one of two aims, either amelioration (tahsin) or depreciation (taqbih), and it is a way of learning and providing pleasure (ladhdhah) to the soul. Ibn Sina pointed out that the Greeks had imitated actions and states only, while the Arabs imitated persons (dhawat) in addition to actions and states. What is clear from these and other remarks is how conscious Ibn Sina was of the problem of cultural and literary differences between the Greeks and the Arabs.

Ibn Sina developed these points in his psychological theory, within which he tried to explain the processes of mimesis by shifting the emphasis toward what he called takhayyul, that is, the process of using the imagination proper and the active imagination to produce likenesses of things. While memory recollects images and meanings apprehended in the past within a temporal context, takhayyul recollects them without associating them with their temporal context. Poetic composition is the product of the activity of the imagination under the supervision of reason, thereby combining the active and the deliberative imagination, lbn Sina thus introduced the psychological aspects to poetic composition and connected them with the process of reception, which was basically worked out by al-Farabi. But lbn Slna added the important concept of ta’jib (“invoking wonder or surprise”) and added pleasure as a central function of poetry. The difference between the civil purpose lbn Sina identified with Greek poetry and the “intersubjective validity” of poetry associated with Arabic was that because the subject is the linchpin of poetic activity, Arabic poetry is intersubjective in the sense that it depends on generating a community of feeling between subjects (Kemal, Poetics). In this way psychology became central in the processes of poetic production and reception and in determining the functions of poetry, namely, learning, pleasure, and intersubjective community of feeling.

Ibn Rushd (1126-98), known as Aver roes in the West, shifted the emphasis from the psychological to the logical by concentrating on the poetic text and its logical structure. His emphasis was on muhakat and tashbih, “mimesis” and “comparison,” which is nearer to al-Farabi’s conception. He emphasized the mechanisms, rather than the processes, of constructing images in the language of poetry. He defined the imaginatively representational arts that effect takhyil as three: melody, meter, and mimetic discourses. He divided poetic discourses, by which he meant similes and metaphors, into three classes: amelioration, depreciation, and correspondence. But lbn Rushd’s main thrust was to work out a theory of image-making (mimesis) that would explain poetic and figurative language in poetry. He attempted unsuccessfully to develop a typology of figurative language based on such an understanding of mimesis because his interest remained philosophical and logical, and his aim was to defend rationality as governing poetic processes and mechanisms rather than to explain them in their own right and in their specific manifestations.

What can be discerned from the work of philosophers are a gradual shift of emphasis that facilitated the development of a relatively comprehensive theory of poetry (production, text, reception) more suitable to Arabic poetry and a shift from associating poetry with lies or falsehood to that of associating it with imaginative representation (takhyil). Yet these shifts were not enough to produce a theory of Arabic literature based on the concepts developed by philosophers, as their object was not poetry but philosophy.

Hazim al-Qartajanni (1211-85) represents the nexus at which the two traditions, the native and the revised Aristotelian, met. Through a complex process the two quite distinct traditions now began to draw nearer to each other under the pressure of poetry itself, on the one hand, and the necessity for theory building and systematization on the other. Hazim, himself a poet, utilized the Arabic Aristotelian tradition, especially al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, and the native tradition of literary criticism. He looked at poetry from three different yet complementary perspectives, considering it as an act of takhayyul (“creation”), takhyil (“reception”), and muhakat (“poetic text”).

Hazim defined poetic discourses as those that “are based on imaginative representation and in which there is imitation .. . whether their premises are apodeictic, argumentative or rhetorical; certain, generally known or assumed” (67; cf. Cantarino 210). He defined poetry as “rhythmic and rhymed discourse” with the “function of making attractive or repugnant to the human spirit whatever it aims at making so” (71; cf. Cantarino 214). And elsewhere he said that “poetry is imaginatively representational and metrical discourse, characterized in Arabic by the inclusion of rhyme. The imaginatively representational premises it combines, whether objectively truthful or false, have as their only condition, in so far as they are poetry, imaginative representation” (89; cf. Cantarino 218).

The production of poetry is performed by the poet, and a person becomes a poet through the combination of three external factors with three internal ones. The external factors are the atmosphere or environment, the acquisition of the instruments of composition (i.e., the science of wording and concepts), and the external stimuli. The internal ones are the retentive faculty (hafizah), which stores and organizes images; the discriminatory faculty (ma’izah); and the artistic faculty, or craftsmanship. According to Hazim, if the three internal factors are present, the person has a good propensity to produce poetry (40-43)·

The determining factor of poetry is imaginative representation, which is found in poetry in

four aspects:in the poetic concept, the composition, the wording, and the rhythm. In relation to poetry, imaginative representation is divided into two types: necessary imaginative representation, and the other which is not necessary but imperative and well-liked for its being a complement to the necessary and an aid in arousing the soul to the pursuit of or avoidance of the intended object. (89; cf. Cantarino 218)

The necessary elements are the “poetic concepts from the standpoint of their wording. The imperative and well-liked ones are the words in themselves—style, meter, and composition” (89; cf. Cantarino 218-19).

Poetry’s function is takhyil, by which Hazim meant the invoking of images in the mind of the listener and which became associated with the concept of arousing wonder:

Imaginative representational discourse is rarely devoid of arousing wonder; it seems that wonder accompanies imaginatively representational discourses, ranging between the minimal and the maximal. Arousing wonder in imaginatively representational discourses is achieved either through… imitating the thing and its imaginative representation … or that which is imitated being of the strange things themselves. If wonder is achieved through having both these aspects, this is the ultimate objective of arousing wonder. This will move the soul powerfully. (al-Qartajanni 127)

In developing the concept of muhakat (the mechanisms of image-making), Hazim mentioned three types: amelioration, depreciation, and correspondence. Based on the basic assumption regarding these types, he developed a typology of figures of speech that is comprehensive and logical. This typology was derived, not from general laws, but from the study of poetry itself, as the “laws of poetry” should be derived from the study of “poetry and no other art.” His typology of figurative language is one of the most exhaustive in Arabic literary criticism. The important thing is that Hazim was able to synthesize both traditions to produce the most comprehensive concepts for the analysis of Arabic poetry, situated within a well-knit and logically developed theoretical framework. Thus, despite the fact that the Aristotelian tradition was not readily or easily accepted, it helped produce one of the most monumental works in Arabic literary criticism and theory.

Modern Criticism

The period from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries was characterized by general stagnation and decline in all aspects of cultural, social, and economic life in the Arab world. But the increasing influence of the West beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century brought with it a modern renaissance in literary studies. Most of the literary criticism produced in the last century has been derivative, either from classical Arabic models or from European ones. Battles raged, and still rage, over how to interpret the literary and the critical traditions. But the real challenge to criticism was again the developments in Arabic literature itself, especially the rise of the new poetry, which started to deviate from, then broke away from, the classical models, both metrically and in sensibility, and the rise of new genres, such as the novel and drama, which quickly acquired a central position in modern Arabic literature.

Until the 1950s, a strong conservative trend was seen in the resuscitation of tradition and the following of traditional poetic rules. Another trend was to reinterpret literary traditions according to modern Western rationality. This second trend was generally influenced by the work of Orientalists, led by such figures as the Egyptian Taha Husayn (1889-1973). A third trend, influenced by Western (especially English) Romanticism, emphasized the individuality of the poet and the centrality of imagination. This trend was basically associated with three groups in modern Romantic Arabic poetry, the émigré poets (e.g., Jibran) and the Diwân and Apollo groups in Egypt (the last two included poets who revolted against the neoclassical Arabic poetry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; both groups were influenced by European, especially English Romantic, poetry [see Brugman]). A prominent figure was the Egyptian al- Aqqâd (1889-1964), who emphasized the psychological aspects of poetic and literary production. A fourth trend was the social trend, as exemplified in the work of another Egyptian, Salamah Müsâ (1888-1958).

Looking at the decades since the 1950s, the traditionalists are still strongly represented in academic criticism, while the Romantic trend is almost dead. Although the social trend remains alive in different forms—mild socialist in the cases of Egyptians Luwls Awad (1915-91) and Muhammad Mandur (1907-65), Marxist-socialist realist in the case of the early criticism of the Egyptian Mahmud Amin al-‘Alim, or more open to recent debates in the case of the younger generation of Marxists—the most prominent and productive trends in the decades since the 1950s have been associated with the modernist movements in Arabic poetry. The Syrio-Lebanese poet and critic Adtinis (b. 1930) launched a critical project to reread the classical poetic tradition in order to justify his own formidable poetic production. But the project turned into one of the most fascinating critical appropriations of tradition and the reworking of literary historical and critical concepts. On the other hand, Kamâl Abu Dib’s (b. 1942) structuralist project, which in many ways runs in tandem with Adunis’s, emphasized the meticulous reading of texts and the reworking and reinterpretation of classical critical writings with the objective of producing a new Arabic poetic theory that revises even its most “sacred” aspects, such as prosody. Despite all these and other mostly academic enterprises, contemporary criticism in the Arab world remains basically derivative. It also still lags behind the great achievements of Arabic writers and poets.

Ihsän ‘Abbäs, Tärikh al-Naqd al-Adabi ‘Ind al-‘Arab (1971); Ilfat Kamäl ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, Nazariyät al-Shi’r ‘Ind al- Faläsifah al-Muslimin (1984); Kamal Abu Deeb, al-Jurjäni’s Theory of Poetic Imagery (1979); Adanls, An Introduction to Arab Poetics (trans. Catherine Cobham, 1990); Mansour Ajami, The Alchemy of Glory: The Dialectic of Truthfulness and Untruthfulness in Medieval Arabic Literary Criticism (1988), The Neckveins of Winter: The Controversy over Natural and Artificial Poetry in Medieval Arabic Literary Criticism (1984); ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi, Aristütälis: Fann al-Shi’r (1953); Deborah Black, Logic and Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics in Medieval Arabic Philosophy (1990); J. Brugman, An Introduction to the History of Modem Arabic Literature in Egypt (1984); Charles Butterworth, trans., Averroes Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics (1986); Vincente Cantarino, Arabic Poetics in the Golden Age (1975); Ismail Dahiyat, trans., Avicenna’s Commentary on the Poetics of Aristotle (1974); Walid Hamarneh, “The Reception of Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry in the Arab-Islamic Mediaeval Thought,” Poetics East and West (ed. Milena DoleZelovä-Velingerovä, 1990); O. B. Hardison, “The Place of Averroes’ Commentary on the Poetics in the History of Medieval Criticism,” Medieval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1968); Wolfhart Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung und griechische Poetik (1969), Täha Ahmad Ibrahim, Tärikh al-Naqd al-Adabt ‘Ind al-‘Arab (1974); Salim Kemal, “Arabic Poetics and Aristotle’s Poetics,” British Journal of Aesthetics 26 (1986), The Poetics of al- Farabi and Avicenna (1991); Muhammad Mandür, al-Naqd al-Manhaji ‘Ind al-‘Arab (1969); Alex Preminger et al., eds., Classical and Medieval Literary Criticism (1974); Häzim al- Qartäjanni, Minhäj al-Bulaghä’ wa Siräj al-Udabä’ (1966); Muhammad Zaghlül Salläm, Tärikh al-Naqd al-‘Aralri (2 vols., 1964); Jäbir Ahmad ‘Usfür, Mafhüm al-Shi’r (1978), al-Sürah al-Fanniyah fi al-Turäth al-Naqdi wal-Baläghi (1974); Richard Walzer, Greek into Arabic: Essays on Islamic Philosophy (1962).
Source: Groden, Michael, and Martin Kreiswirth. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Categories: Arabic Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory

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  1. Wonderful portal; very helpful to scholars.

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