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The Reader in al-JāḥiẓThe Epistolary Rhetoric of an Arabic Prose Master$
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Thomas Hefter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748692743

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748692743.001.0001

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Faulting Misers in the Introduction to Kitaˉb al-Bukhalaˉʾ

Faulting Misers in the Introduction to Kitaˉb al-Bukhalaˉʾ

(p.173) 4 Faulting Misers in the Introduction to Kitaˉb al-Bukhalaˉʾ
The Reader in al-Jāḥiẓ

Thomas Hefter

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on the introduction of al-Jāḥiẓ’s masterpiece of social satire, K. al-Bukhalāʾ (The Book of Misers), which is one of his richest and most elaborate uses of the letter frame and the addressee. After a brief discussion of al-Jāḥiẓ’s views on generosity as a relative virtue for which moderation is the ideal, this chapter turns to an examination of the book’s introduction, in which the obvious hypocrisy of the addressee’s request for a book on miserliness in others is taken through a number of unexpected turns. The shifting stances of the addressee invite the reader to contrast himself with him in contradictory ways which is designed to lead him on a path of self-examination and an exploration of the economic motives that shape his perceptions.

Keywords:   Kitab al-Bukhala’ or (The) Book of Misers, Miserliness, Generosity, Golden mean

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