Concentrism in Classical Arabic Poetry: The Prized Ode of Imru al-Qays
Tue, November 16, 2010 • 11:30 AM • Texas Union, Chicano Culture Room (4.206)
A Lecture by Raymond Farrin, American University of Kuwait
This lecture will briefly review the traditional critical reception of classical Arabic poetry in the West and the stereotype that classical Arabic poems lack organic unity. It will then discuss new approaches to appreciate this poetry, highlighting a reading and analysis of classical Arabic poems based on an awareness of ring composition. In the main part of the lecture, Dr. Farrin will analyze in detail the most famous poem in Arabic literature, the Mu'allaqa of Imru' al-Qays (d. 542 CE). He shows that, contrary to widespread critical opinion, the poem is highly unified, and that the structure serves as a guide to the poem's overall meaning. Indeed, the structure underscores the magnitude of the poet's personal crisis and helps us to understand how he attempts to overcome it.
Ray Farrin is the author of the monograph Abundance from the Desert: Classical Arabic Poetry (Syracuse University Press, 2010) based on an award-winning dissertation completed at UC Berkeley. The book argues that many classical Arabic poems exhibit a high degree of organic and thematic unity, contrary to the traditional Western appraisal of them. Specifically, a large number of them are apparently organized according to the principles of ring composition. His current project analyzes structural cohesion in the Qur'an, where it is often believed there is none. Dr. Farrin teaches Arabic literature at American University of Kuwait.
Sponsored by the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professorship, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the UT Arabic Flagship Program.