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Al-Jā-hiẓIn Praise of Books$
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James Montgomery

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748683321

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683321.001.0001

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The Book of Living

The Book of Living

(p.53) Part 2 The Book of Living (p.54)

James E. Montgomery

Edinburgh University Press

Al-Jāḥiẓ wrote The Book of Living in response to these apocalyptic expectations and social concerns. The enterprise began as an attempt to fulfil a moral imperative — the need to thank God for His creation by producing a comprehensive inventory of it. The production of such an inventory involved the proper application of the special gift which God had given to man: the reasoning intellect. Al-Jāḥiẓ sought to codify his inventory in the form of a totalising book. Yet the process was paradoxical: in order to write it, al-Jā?i? had somehow to become the ideal writer. Al-Jā?i? was also required to fashion an audience of ideal readers able to read and respond to such a book. He produced possibly the longest, and probably the most complex, book written in Arabic at the time.

Keywords:   Books and society, Ideal writers and readers, Forms of dissemination of knowledge, History of the early Arabic book

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