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Tears Shed Over the Poetic Past: The Prosification Of Rithā' Al-mudun In Al-Saraqustī's Maqāma Qayrawāniyya

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This article will provide a close reading of Abū al-Tāhir Muhammad b. Yūsuf al-Saraqustī's (d. 1143) Maqāma Qayrawāniyya. Taking into account social, political, and literary-historical factors, I will examine how and why the author effectively translates the poetic genre of rithā' al-mudun (city elegy) into rhymed prose. Writing during the Almoravid period when the prestige of poetry and literary prose was signi ficantly less than it had been in earlier periods due to a decline in courtly patronage, al-Saraqustī successfully expresses his own displacement as a writer and ambivalent relationship to the Arabic literary past and present by subverting the traditional metaphoric obscurity of poetry, and the clarity of prose. In utilizing the "hybrid form" of the maqāma, al-Saraqustī demonstrates the difficulties of remaining within narrowly de fined genres that do not necessarily re flect the complex twelfth century present in which the author lived.


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