Recommend to your Librarian

The Reader in al-Jahiz

The Epistolary Rhetoric of an Arabic Prose Master

Thomas Hefter

eBook (PDF) i

Explores the intricately crafted rhetorical strategies used by al-Jāḥiẓ in his letters

The 9th-century essayist, theologian and encyclopaedist ‘Amr b. Baḥr al-Jāḥiẓ has long been acknowledged as a master of early Arabic prose writing. Many of his most engaging writings were clearly intended for a broad readership but were presented as letters to individuals. Despite the importance and quantity of these letters, surprisingly little academic notice has been paid to them.

Show more


1. The Addressee and the Occasion of Writing
2. Epistolary Confrontations and Dialectics of Parody
3. Undisclosed Origins and Homelands
4. Faulting Misers in the Introduction of Kitāb al-Bukhalāʾ
5. Passive Addressee and Critical Reader in the Abū al-ʿĀṣ/Ibn al-Tawʾam Debate

About the Author

Thomas Hefter is Lecturer of Arabic at Princeton University. He earned his PhD in Classical Arabic Literature from the University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He has taught at the American University in Cairo and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.


'There is no doubt that this book fills an important lacuna in scholarship and will be of great help to understand the complicated narrative of al-Jahiz and, in general, early Abbasid literature.'

- Ignacio Sanchez, Journal of Islamic Studies

Also in this series

You might also like ...