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image of Journal of Arabic Literature

The text of Ibn Quzmān's Dīwān, mainly preserved in a unique Eastern MS, still contains passages that defy interpretation, in spite of several consecutive editions by Nykl, García Gómez and Corriente, either because of the copyist's inability to handle Andalusi items that were subsequently distorted, or on account of our own ignorance of the Andalusi lexicon and semantics, or of certain allusions made by the poet to minor social and historical events. In Dr. Jareer Abu-Haidar's recent book, Hispano-Arabic Literature and the Early Provençal Lyrics (Curzon, 2001), he has included a former paper of his with proposals to improve the edition and the understanding of some of those passages in ways that have met our approval in some cases, but not in most of them. When these cases of rejection of his proposals are analyzed, the reasons beyond their presumed weaknesses seem to lie either in his failure to accept that Ibn Quzmān intended to write in the local dialect, and not in any kind of debased or simplified Classical Arabic, or to acknowledge that he used a slightly modified Arabic metrical system, into which any reading proposal must fit. Nevertheless, Abu-Haidar's remarks have been a positive contribution towards a better understanding of Ibn Quzmān's text, which is of paramount importance to the whole subject of medieval Arabic stanzaic poetry.


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