Ghazal as World Literature I: Transformations of a Literary Genre
Thomas Bauer and Angelika Neuwirth. (Editors.)
Almost by definition, volumes made up of papers originally delivered at conferences are open to the criticism that they fail to convey a coherently disciplined view of their subject. But in the case of this book, which is the outcome of a symposium held in Beirut in 1999, the format is actually rather nicely suited to its theme. Quite apart from the external complexities of the ghazal's long historical evolution across language boundaries and through very different cultural periods stretching at least from the seventh century down to the present day, it is a genre—insofar as it can be satisfactorily defined at all—whose lyrical appeal is characteristically based upon the juxtaposition of a variety of viewpoints and frames of reference within the individual verses of a given poem.
Having assembled an impressive collection of expert contributors covering a great variety of subjects, the editors have wisely limited the scope of their introduction to broad brush indications of some of the main themes suggested by the contents of the volume. These are summarized as a set of transformations in the evolution of the ghazal, starting with transformations of language, from Arabic into Hebrew, and from Arabic into Persian, and thence into Turkish, into Urdu and later …
2005, Paperback, 447 pages, 17.0 x 24.0 cm