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Classical Elements in Mahjar Poetry

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image of Journal of Arabic Literature

Mahjar poets, particularly members of al-Rābitah al-qalamiyyah, established a new "romantic" school that exercised an immense influence on modern Arabic poetry as a whole. Most of the scholars who have studied this poetry have put excessive emphasis on its Christian components, minimizing, if not altogether ignoring, Islamic and classical elements. This article examines whether this attitude is warranted, by investigating in detail the poetry of Nasıb Arıdah, a prominent representative of that school. It turns out that Christian sources are infrequent in Arıdah's poetry, whereas Islamic and classical sources predominate. I conclude that the generalization about the primacy of Christian culture in the works of the al-Rābitah group is of doubtful validity, and that further investigations similar to this study are needed.

Affiliations: 1: Tel-Aviv University


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