Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Roger M. Allen
This study investigates the prosimetric style of a renowned contribution to Arabic narrative, the MaqÃ¢mÃ¢t of BadÃ®' al-zamÃ¢n al-HamadhÃ¢nÃ® (358-398/969-1008). Al-HamadhÃ¢nÃ®'s MaqÃ¢mÃ¢t corpus contains fifty-two short tales that are centered on the words and deeds of a fictitious beggar hero. They are also characterized by a consistent alternation of rhymed prose (saj') and poetry. These two distinct features of the maqÃ¢mah genre were faithfully imitated by al-HamadhÃ¢nÃ®'s successors in the following millennium.
The origins of the maqÃ¢mah genre have sparked heated debates among scholars of Arabic literature. Its longevity and versatility also await an explanation. This comprehensive and comparative analysis of the MaqÃ¢mÃ¢t's prose (both rhymed and plain) and poetry can provide new angles through which to consider these issues. By introducing the transfer of function/form, we argue that the prosimetric style could have been affected by the functions that the hero inherited from pre-Islamic soothsayers, who were famed for their linguistic virtuosity in both modes of expression. Analogues from the ancient Chinese, Indian, and Greek literary traditions not only suggest the maqÃ¢mah's intrinsic performability but also highlight the role of admonishers, i.e., heirs of soothsayers/shamans and performers of prosimetra in these literary traditions. The maqÃ¢mah's homage to previous Arabic genres such as annals, anecdotes, and mimes, and its impact on so-called modern drama and fiction can both be interpreted by reference to the continuity of generations of admonishers. A detailed analysis of the maqÃ¢mah's final section (envoi), episode proper, and opening formula illustrates the uniqueness of its prosimetric style which links the Arabic genre's genesis to possible Indo-Iranian and Greek inspirations.
Qian, Ailin, "The MaqÃ¢mah as Prosimetrum: A Comparative Investigation of its Origin, Form and Function" (2012). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 562.