The Poetics of the Obscene in Premodern Arabic Poetry: Ibn al-Hajjaj and Sukhf
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
The pre-modern Arab poet Ibn al-Hajjaj (941-1001) left an indelible mark on the trajectory of pre-modern Arabic poetry and culture by pioneering and popularizing a new mode of poetry, sukhf - obscene and scatological parody. His outrageously obscene poetry was admired by his contemporaries, as well by poets and critics of later periods. The modern period, however, has not been nearly as kind to Ibn al-Hajjaj. Sinan Antoon argues that the reasons for this oversight are ideological, for the most part, and have to do with modern misconceptions of what constitutes "good poetry." The Poetics of the Obscene in Pre-Modern Arabic Poetry is the first study of this fascinating poet and the genre he popularized, placing it within Arab cultural genealogy. Antoon reinscribes Ibn al-Hajjaj into the literary history from which he has been exiled and offers fascinating close readings of the poems in their social and cultural context.
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