Library of Arabic Literature
Published by: NYU Press
128 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781479877928
- Published: October 2016
Written in mid-17th century Egypt, Risible Rhymes is in part a short, comic disquisition on “rural” verse, mocking the pretensions and absurdities of uneducated poets from Egypt’s countryside.
The interest in the countryside as a cultural, social, economic, and religious locus in its own right that is hinted at in this work may be unique in pre-twentieth-century Arabic literature. As such, the work provides a companion piece to its slightly younger contemporary, Yusuf al-Shirbini’s Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded, which also takes examples of mock-rural poems and subjects them to grammatical analysis. The overlap between the two texts may indicate that they both emanate from a common corpus of pseudo-rural verse that circulated in Ottoman Egypt. Risible Rhymes also examines various kinds of puzzle poems—another popular genre of the day—and presents a debate between scholars over a line of verse by the tenth-century poet al-Mutanabbi. Taken as a whole, Risible Rhymes offers intriguing insight into the critical concerns of mid-Ottoman Egypt, showcasing the intense preoccupation with wordplay, grammar, and stylistics that dominated discussions of poetry in al-Sanhuri’s day and shedding light on the literature of this understudied era.
"Lucid and imaginative...the translation is thankfully reliable and delightfully readable...a remarkable achievement in many ways."-Li Guo,Journal of the American Oriental Society