Arabic literature

From Academic Kids

Arabic literature refers to all forms of literature written by Arabs or related to Arabic culture. This may include any work by an Arab writer that relates to Arabic culture, and may further include non-Arab works written in the Arabic language and to a primarily Arab audience.

There are a number of genres and forms within Arabic literature: Adab, Maqama, Qasida, Arabic epic literature, and Hanged Poems.


The origins of the modern Arabic novel

The origins of the modern Arabic novel can be traced to a long process of cultural revival and assimilation, referred to in Arabic as the Nahada (النهضة), or Renaissance. Characteristic of this period were two distinct trends. The Neo-Classical movement sought to rediscover the literary traditions of the past, and was influenced by traditional literary genres such as the maqama and the Thousand and One Nights. In contrast, the Modernist movement began by translating Western works, primarily novels, into Arabic.

Individual authors in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt created original works by imitating the classical maqama. The most prominent of these was al-Mawilhi, whose book, The Hadith of Issa ibn Hisham (حديث عيسى بن هشام), critiqued Egyptian society in the period of Muhammad Ali. This work constitutes the first stage in the development of the modern Arabic novel. This trend was furthered by Georgy Zeidan, a Lebanese Christian writer who immigrated with his family to Egypt following the Damascus riots of 1860. In the early twentieth century, Zidan serialized his historical novels in the Egyptian newspaper al-Halal. These novels were extremely popular, especially in comparison with the works of al-Mawilhi, because of their clarity of language, simple structure, and the author's vivid imagination. Two other important writers from this period were Khalil Gibran and Mihail Naima, both of whom incorporated philosophical musings into their works.

Nevertheless, literary critics do not consider the works of these four authors to be true novels, but rather indications of the form that the modern novel would assume. Many of these critics point to Zind, a novel by Muhammad Hasnin Heikhal as the first true Arabic-language novel, while others point to Adraa Denshawi by Muhammad Taher Haki as the first true novel.

Arabic poetry

See main article Arabic poetry

Notable poets include:

Taghribat Bani Hilal forms part of the epic tradition.

Noted authors




  • Roger Allen, The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction (1982) ISBN 0950788503.
  • Alamgir Hashmi, The Worlds of Muslim Imagination (1986) ISBN 0005004071.
  • Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, multiple authors and editors

See also

External links

fr:Litt閞ature de langue arabe he:ספרות ערבית pl:Literatura arabska


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