The growing diversity of our society makes that we are increasingly confronted with foreign cultures and their art forms. The Western Canon has in recent years lost some of its monopoly in favor of influences from the Middle and the Far East. This offers quite a few new perspectives, but for these cultures it is not always self evidant to find theiry way to a Western audience. The different language, the lack of familiarity with the Arabic society, and several other cultural aspects hinder an easy access and interest. This is definately the care for early-Arabiv literature. One of the most important poetic works from the pre-Islamic Arabia is the Mu'allaqat or "The Hanging Odes." These odes can be considered as the best poetic work in a tradition that spans six centuries (from the first to the sixth century AD.) They describe in a poetic form the early-Arabic life of the bedouin communities in great detail and are widely read, praised and studied in Arabic schools and universities.
This book is devoted to making these odes accessible for a Western audience. The first part consist of seven essays that provide a thorough insight of the society in which these odes originated, with sharp critical analyses of the country, its culture, its beliefs and the developments of the Arabic language. It gives a historical overview of pre-Islamic Arabia with an emphasis on the influence of Christianity; the Nabataeans; the reign of the fourth century Queen Mavia; and an analysis of the structure of pre-Islamic poetry. The second part consists of a poetic translation of the Mu'allaqat in English.
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