Literary genre as a theoretical colonization by modernism: Arabic balāghah and its literariness in ancient egyptian literature

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Abstract

Many generations of Euro-American Egyptologists have investigated ancient Egyptian compositions from different perspectives by employing several Euro-American analytical methods. The whole discussion of literary and nonliterary texts in the ancient Egyptian culture has been one-sided in so far as it has mostly concerned itself with applying theories extracted from modern Euro-American print culture. This article offers a literature review that exposes the pitfalls involved in any generalizations that would link ancient Egyptian literature with the interdependency of the print industry and the rise of the modern concept of literary genre. It seeks to expand scholarship regarding the question of literariness in the ancient Egyptian literary culture by examining the close relationship between pre-modern Arabic adab and its balāghah (meaning “eloquence” and roughly translated into “poetics”). It argues that the pre-modern Arabic literary theory of balāghah and its criticism have the resources to investigate ancient Egyptian literature from a number of closer perspectives other than a modern, unidimensional approach which takes the ancient Egyptian and Arabic texts as some kind of disembodied propositional truth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-68
Number of pages45
JournalInterdisciplinary Literary Studies
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ancient Egptian literature
  • Arabic poetics
  • Literary genre
  • Modernism
  • Post-Eurocentric poetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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