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Recognition in the Arabic Narrative Tradition

Discovery, Deliverance and Delusion

Philip F Kennedy

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The first study to analyse the recognition scene in the Arabic narrative tradition

According to Aristotle, a well-crafted recognition scene is one of the basic constituents of a successful narrative. It is the point when hidden facts and identities come to light—in the classic instance, a son discovers in horror that his wife is his mother and his children are his siblings. Aristotle coined the term ‘anagnôrisis’ for the concept. In this book Philip F. Kennedy shows how 'recognition' is key to an understanding of how one reads values and meaning into, or out of, a story. He analyses texts and motifs fundamental to the Arabic literary tradition in five case studies: the Qur’an; the biography of Muhammad; Joseph in classical and medieval re-tellings; the ‘deliverance from adversity’ genre and picaresque narratives.

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Preface and Acknowledgements


Chapter 1. A Cognitive Reading of the Qurʾānic Story of Joseph

Chapter 2. Joseph in The Life of Muḥammad: Prophecy in Tafsīr (Exegesis), Sīrah (Biography) and Ḥadīth (Tradition)

Chapter 3. Joseph and His Avatars

Chapter 4. Intertextuality and Reading: The Myth of Deliverance in al-Faraj baʿd al-Shiddah

Chapter 5. The Picaresque Maqāmah


Appendix: anagnorisis in falsafah




About the Author

Philip F. Kennedy is Professor of Arabic Literature at New York University. He is author of The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the literary tradition (1997) and General Editor of the Library of Arabic Literature, a joint project of the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute and NYU Press.

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