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The Mystery of the Missing Mantle: The Poet as Wittol? (Ibn Quzmān's Zajal 20)

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This article subjects Ibn Quzmān's Zajal 20 to a critical analysis, showing that, like other Quzmānī poems, its thematic structure is chiastic. Insofar as structure and meaning are two fundamental and interrelated components in any given literary work, the poem's structure further leads us from its surface buffoonery into its deeper levels of significance. Zajal 20, which purports to be a panegyric, actually subverts that genre by breaking several of the rules of poetic composition prescribed by Arabic rhetoricians. Through his violation of these rules, the poet offers an ironic critique of certain corrupt legal practices prevalent in his day.

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