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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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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

The Salvific Book

The Salvific Book

(p.173) Part 4 The Salvific Book (p.174)

James E. Montgomery

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter reviews the following queries: Why were al-Jāḥẓ’s books rejected in this manner? What was the point of the critique? What exactly was attacked? Was it the author’s style of thinking (Kalām) or writing? Did the work unsettle the attacker, resolutely determined not to be fashioned as al-Jāḥẓ’s ideal reader? Who was the attacker? Why is he unnamed? And what did al-Jāḥẓ hope to achieve by rehearsing his attacker’s arguments and refuting them by his praise of books? Chapter 4 considers these questions by putting The Book of Living in the textual environment of the third century, by reviewing attitudes to biographies and bibliographies, book writing and patronage, and by contrasting the formal indeterminacy of the Introduction with contemporary works. It concludes that al-Jāḥẓ designed his book to save society from the competitive strife in which argument and debate had engulfed it. Debate could now be internalised in the soul of the reader. This was made possible because books encouraged solitary reading and interior debate.

Keywords:   Biobibliography, Patronage, Invective, Encyclopaedism, Social cohesion

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