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Ḥikāyat Abī al-Qāsim

A Literary Banquet

Emily Selove

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Re-introduces a poorly understood, provocative and unusual work to a new audience

Hikayat Abi al-Qasim, probably written in the 11th century by the otherwise unknown al-Azdi, tells the story of a gate-crasher from Baghdad named Abu l-Qasim, who shows up uninvited at a party in Isfahan. Dressed as a holy man and reciting religious poetry, he soon relaxes his demeanour, and, growing intoxicated on wine, insults the other dinner guests and their Iranian hometown.

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Part 1
a. Manuscript
b. Authorship and Dating
c. Editions
d. Translations
e. Summary of Events
f. Scholarship
g. A Mediterranean Table

Part II
Chapter 1: A Sampling of the Ḥikāyah

Part III
Chapter 2: A Microcosm Introduced
a. Mimesis or Mannerism?
b. Baghdad the Party-Crasher
c. Those Camels have Passed

Part IV
Chapter 3: Crashing the Text

Part V
Chapter 4: Mujun is a Crazy Game

Part VI
Chapter 5:
The Cosmic Crasher
a. Abū al-Qāsim as Microcosm
b. Abī al-Qāsim as Iblīs
c. The Microcosm is a Man

Part VII

a. Bojangles Won’t Dance
b. Philemon and Baucis


About the Author

Emily Selove is a lecturer in Medieval Arabic Literature at the University of Exeter. She is the translator of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s 11th-century work on party-crashing, The Art of Party-Crashing in Medieval Iraq.

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