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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book The Raven and the Falcon, which studies the subject of youth versus old age in medieval Arabic literature, dispelling common misconceptions and providing relevant insight into its treatment in other literatures. In poetic imagery, youth is identified with the black raven, old age with the white falcon. The binary opposition of al-jidd wa-l-hazl is the soul of adab. Accordingly, the book is interspersed with an informative and entertaining sample of adab intended to engage specialists and non-specialists alike. Given the polar depictions of youth and old age in Arabic literature, the book makes use, as appropriate, of binary oppositions, which are "the most natural and economical code; they are the first operations children learn as they begin to accede to language; and, more generally, they are the common denominator of all thought".

Keywords: adab; al-jidd wa-l-hazl; binary opposition; black raven; medieval Arabic literature; white falcon



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