Humor, sensuality in Arabic Literature
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Some note has been made of the terrible realities of loss, war, hatred and hardship in the literature. It would be pretty intense escapism if it were otherwise. But there is a good deal of middle eastern literature (some of it Islamic, not all of it Arabic), classical and modern, that is richly sensual and humorous - The Perfumed Garden by Sheik Nefzawi is a classic of eroticism - it is pious, earthy and in many instances, hilarious (the account of how the court jester had his way with the emir's wife on numerous occasions and got away with it - to her enduring chagrin and admiration). Of course there's the Thousand Nights and a Night. I have others, modern. If anyone anyone is interested, let me know - I'll try to recall the authors and titles.
I would definitely be interested in any books that you can recommend. Thanks!
Hello, and welcome. I'd be happy to recommend titles... those which correspond to the topic here - Ibrahim Al-Mazini's Ten Again and Other Stories, Nefzawi's The Perfumed Garden (very funny, and erotic), and of course ther Persian sufi poet, Omar Khayyam. I am new to this myself - so here is the recommended list of books I have actually read and enjoyed:
Abdelrahman Munif: Cities of salt. This documents, from the native perspective, the arrival of americans in an unnamed gulf country - the transformation of life and values - and how the arrival of the telephone and radio actually muddles rather than enhances communication.
Sadegh Hedayyat: The Blind Owl. A modern Persian novel, written in the 30s - influenced by Poe and Baudelaire. Grotesque.
Gamal Al-Ghitani: Zayni Barakat. Set in medieval Cairo, about the manipulation of public sentiment and public reality for personal gain... of political intrigue and the secret service. A satire, I belive, of Egyptian society under Nasser.
Highly recommended also are the writings of early arab adventurers such as Ibn Battuta and the histories of Ibn Khaldun.
There is also what appears to be an interesting book on the history of the use of coffee in islamic society: Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East. I'm sure others may have other suggestions - and more articulate summaries - both o0f which I welcome warmly.
I have very little to contribute to this group, so this will be short.
I draw attention to two slim volumes in my possession (excerpted from some older larger compilations) and published (in Italian at least) as "Il libro delle curiosità del coito", (The curiosities of coitus) by Ni'Matul-Lah al-Gaza'iri and "Il libro delle tendenze amorose", (The book of amorous inclinations) by Abu Utman Amru ibn Bahr al-Gahiz. Last time I looked I couldn't find anything else by these authors in LT (I searched for "al-Gazairi" and "al-Gahiz"), even online not much comes up.
I assume this is mostly due to god-knows-how-many different Latin transliterations of the Arabic author names.
There's also نزهة النديم (Nuzʹhat al-nadīm) by Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (unfortunately not on LT, as far as I can determine)--a 16th century collection of poetry & maxims about flatulence, and recently reprinted in Tunisia in 2003.
The only reason I know about this is because this is the only book assigned the Library of Congress call number PJ7632.F55, which is reserved precisely for "collections af Arabic poetry on flatulence."
abd riiH al-ruH... amazing. That I will look for. A week or so back, in Arabic class, one of the students - a 40 some year old guy with a PhD in chemistry asked the professor how to say "fart" in Arabic. Amusing in the way you might you might imagine - and the guy gave his reason and enriching asides explaining his request. The professor related anecdote after anecdote about how certain rural tribesmen, in the Sudan, notably, deal with farters in their midst: death, invariably.
He did not provide translation.
Seriously - senor Ibrahim claims they lop a fellow's head off before he can say "oops". Marvelous diversity of the vast world, etc. Fortunately, I never leave home without my well-worn Emily Post.
It must be re-directed suppressed rage at the inexpediency of slaughtering farty camels.
Not that I can compare livestock far and wide, mind you--but them camels...
Likely so. Camels are valuable, you can't just go lopping off the head of your transportation/festival-food every time it has a glitch.
The professor is an interesting case; many anecdotes associated with him.
About the reference to "al-Gazairi" and "al-Gahiz"... Yes, you guessed it LolaWalser, it's a transliteration thing. Those Gs are based on Egyptian pronunciation; any other Arabic speaker would write and pronounce them as Js. So just replace your Gs with Js and you'll find plenty of info.
For instance, al-Jahiz ( الجاحظ I think) is the pen name of a guy who was very famous for satires. I remember enjoying a clever piece he did on 'dancing girls' which would be witty regardless of whether it's read literally or between the lines. I believe it's part of a larger collection of pieces directed against greedy or dishonest people. (He wasn't saying that dancing girls were bad, but that their patrons were. Very sneaky!)
Fullmoonblue, that's fantastic info! Thanks so much!
He wasn't saying that dancing girls were bad, but that their patrons were.
A laudable opinion! Let's hear it for the working girls!
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