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This volume analyzes modern poems composed by well-known poets most of whom have played an active role in the modernization of Arabic poetry, using both innovative poetic techniques and traditional folk elements and symbols. These works have drawn motifs especially from The Arabian Nights, an important source of modern poetic texts.
Part One of the book describes the development of interest in folk materials in parallel to the evolution of modern Arabic poetry and concomitant political, social, and cultural changes. Four periods are examined: before 1945, 1945–1961, 1962–1987, and 1988 to the present. A survey is given of the changing positions taken by Arab intellectuals and in modern criticism toward folk culture, based on political, cultural, and social factors. This is followed up by a discussion of the artistic and dramatic value of The Arabian Nights.
Part Two applies these insights, describing the use of The Arabian Nights in modern poetry during each of the above-mentioned periods by analyzing the contents and form of a selection of important poems. The analysis focuses mainly on artistic technique and the role played by folk materials (associated with The Arabian Nights) in the construction of the text and its artistic and linguistic structures. The poems are grouped according to the periods in which they were composed, and further grouped in accordance with the relative value of the alluded text and the extent to which it enters into the poem’s overall structure: from the simplest to the most complex allusion, according to Genette’s theory and terms. In addition, it contains terms specifically coined for this study to describe various forms and techniques of folk allusion.