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By Professor Roger Allen

Roger Allen offers a finished introductory survey of literary texts in Arabic, from their unknown beginnings within the 5th century advert to the current day, and from Islam's sacred textual content, the Qur'an, to well known literature together with The Arabian Nights and a wealth of poetry, narrative prose, drama and feedback. With broad quotations in English translation, a chronology and a consultant to extra analyzing, this revised and abridged model of Allen's acclaimed learn, The Arabic Literary history (CUP 1998), offers a useful scholar creation to a huge non-Western literary culture.

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Alfus··ha¯ (or Al-lughah al-fus··ha¯) is in the form of a comparative adjective: it implies ‘the language that is more correct’. The dialects by contrast are called a¯mmiyya¯t (languages of the populace) or the less pejorative lugha¯t da¯rijah (current languages). The attitudes implicit in these terms colour the discussion of the cultural value of many modern literary genres, most especially drama and fiction. They have also served to consign surviving texts of earlier popular literature to the realm of non-literature; this includes the Thousand and One Nights itself, a work that was recorded in a form of the written language that reflects the discourse practices of story-telling rather than those of élite literature.

The city of Is·faha¯n became a major centre of learning and culture. Sultan Selı¯m now turned his attention southward, and by  he had also defeated the Mamlu¯k armies and entered the city of Cairo. When Selı¯m died in , the Ottoman Empire included Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and the western part of the  An introduction to Arabic literature Arabian Peninsula; the Sultan was ‘the guardian of the two holy places [Mecca and Medina]’, a title that has in more recent times been adopted by the Saudi monarchs.

Such initiatives had obvious benefits beyond the purely military sphere, not least through the educational opportunities that were made available to young Egyptians and the expansion in contacts with European commercial concerns that was the result of the country’s need for technology and financial assistance. This applied most notably in the agricultural sector where, after wresting control of much productive land from its traditional owners, Muh·ammad Alı¯ considerably expanded the production and export of cotton through the construction of a variety of irrigation projects.

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