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Title: Al-Ḥarīrī's Travel in Search of Distraction: al-Riḥla fī ṭalabi l-istiṭrāf
Authors: Neuwirth, Angelika
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Padova, Studio Editoriale Gordini
Abstract: Abū l-Qāsim Muḥammad al-Ḥarīrī's is perhaps the most consequent chronicler of a journey sui generis: the " journey is pursuit of detraction". This invention, materialized in the so-called maqāma, and intended as an anti-typus of the Islamic ideal of the "journey in pursuit of the knowledge " -stages two heroes: a somewhat reckless, through rhetorically brilliant rogue, named Abū Zayd, and a narrator, al-Ḥariṯ. The latter reports the events staged by Abū Zayd, who in a sort of theatrical sketch that he performs in diverse cities of the Islamic world, involves repersentatives of all social classes as co-actors: religious functionaries as well as mere passers-by. His performances regularly feature him as a survivor, who is forced to circumvent social norms and replace them by anti-norms. Abū Zayd, thanks to his extraordinary rhetorical talents always succeeds to arouse his public's emotions and thus to activate their charity. Although each time identified and forced to render account for his delusive play he will go on displaying his tricks throughout Ḥarīrī's work that comprises 50 maqamas. Ḥarīrī's stylistically most refined work is a tour de force to establish a value system that places play, epistemic curiosity, sensual enjoyment and last but not least sexual fulfilment as primary goals of human strife.
Appears in Collections:Annali di Ca' Foscari. Serie orientale

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