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Title: Departure in Search of the Divine in the Arabo-Persian and Franco-English Traditions
Authors: Ghazoul, Ferial J.
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Padova, Studio Editoriale Gordini
Abstract: In this comparative study of medieval narratives dealing with the search for the divine in two traditions, the focus is on the defining moment of departure. Two traditions -the Eastern Islamic and the Western Christian -possess seminal narratives of voyages seeking the divine. The article examines the allegorical Bird Epistles of Ibn Sīnā and al-Ġazālī and then analyzes al-Aṭṭār's Manṭiq al-ṭays (The Conference of Birds). In Europe chivalric romances and Grail quests partake in the search for the divine: Perceval ou le Conte de Graal of Chrétien de Troyes and Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. The literary works show the departure as the first step in a rite of passage that only functions if it meets the spiritual conditions of wayfaring: purity in the Islamic tradition and repentance in the Christian tradition. The Arabic and Persian works use a metaphoric mode to speak of the divine presence and ascension towards Him; the divine is symbolized as Simorgh (Phoenix). The French and English works use a metonymic mode to speak of the divine through an associated object, the Holy Grail (the vessel that collected the blood of Christ). In both traditions the journey requires a spiritual guide, but while in the Islamic tradition the quest is for a mystic union in the Sufi Way, the quest in the Christian tradition recalls the formal dimensions of religion to regenerate the moral wasteland.
Appears in Collections:Annali di Ca' Foscari. Serie orientale

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