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Exploring Arab Folk Literature$
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Pierre Cachia

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748640867

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640867.001.0001

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The Nahḍa's First Stirrings of Interest in Alf Layla

The Nahḍa's First Stirrings of Interest in Alf Layla

(p.42) 3 The Nahḍa's First Stirrings of Interest in Alf Layla
Exploring Arab Folk Literature

Pierre Cachia

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on Alf Layla, with particular emphasis on Naḥda's interest in this work. To many educated Arabs, Alf Layla was the exact opposite of literary classics which are often cited and read. The component tales of Alf Layla were common knowledge but they were seen as at best ‘idle stories’ that fell under Qur'anic condemnation. However, when placed within the rudiments of classical Arabic literature, Alf Layla does not conform to the high style which Tāhā Husayn himself once declared a sine qua non of the literary canon. So far, no interest had been shown in the narrative techniques that are so engaging a feature of Alf Layla. The elite that had set out not to be elitist continued to dedicate itself to serving the masses without seeking any input from them.

Keywords:   Alf Layla, Naḥda, classical Arabic literature, folk literature, literary elite, literary classics, Tāhā Husayn

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