Narrativität im Kitab al-Farag ba'da s-sidda des Abu 'Ali al-Muhassin at-Tanuhi
Eine literaturwissenschaftliche Studie abbasidischer Prosa
Islamkundliche Untersuchungen Band 280
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
1. Edition (2008)
Paperback, 426 pages
Die vorliegende Studie wendet einen Querschnitt strukturalistischer und poststrukturalistischer Ansätze der Erzähltheorie auf ein recht typisches Werk der schöngeistigen adab-Literatur des ausgehenden 4./10. Jh. an. Sie ist somit die erste Analyse, die systematisch Hauptbereiche der Narratologie unter Berücksichtigung der Besonderheiten abbasidischer Prosa behandelt.
Literary perspectives are essential to a full understanding of Classical Arabic prose. This study takes a decidedly interdisciplinary approach by bridging the fields of pre-10th century Arab history, literature, modern narrative theory, religion, philosophy and culture applying them to a late-abbasid work, Tanukhi’s al-Faraj ba’d ash-shidda.
The first chapter analyses the author’s biography bringing to the fore new aspects of his personality. I present Tanukhi’s account of the hardships that led him to write al-Faraj and relate these to the extremely shaky political situation in the region, his philosophic background and the religious movements at that time. By studying indications by Tanukhi in the prefaces to his works, I identify his target reader groups. The second chapter tackles the questions: “What is narrative in akhbar literature?” and “What does the term akhbar (and its synonyms) mean to abbasid litte?rateurs?”, “How do isnads affect the actual content of the narrative?”. Apart from this, I identify the general structural features of adab works and identify the shared structural characteristics of narratives found within al-Faraj. Comparing written sources with al-Faraj, I establish methods for determining how Tanukhi adapted the narratives of other adab-writers and the extent to which oral transmission allowed Tanukhi greater freedom in this adaptation.
Furthermore, I propose a method for distinguishing between oral and written transmission modes in al-Faraj. Next, I evaluate the narrative functions of verses of the Quran, poetry, prayers of supplication, hadith and dialogue. I argue that these elements are often crucial to the plot and the inner framework of Faraj-stories. Aside from their narrative function certain Quran verses structure the text in its entirety and provide guiding principles.
Through a deep semantic analysis of poetry contained in Faraj ba’d al-Shidda-narratives, I reveal 17 distinct ways in which they function. The examination of narrative technique and modal features in chapter three is based on structuralist and post-structuralist narratological approaches laid out by Genette, Bal, Sternberg, and Uspensky, among others. I describe the complex temporal construction of short Faraj-narratives. Taking into consideration distinctive features of adab-literature, I explore such narratology fundamentals as voice, distance and focalisation. It is of particular interest to notice the high rate of changes in narrative voice (transvocalisation) instead of alternating focalisation (transfocalisation). This chapter concludes with an in-depth analysis of focalisation types – it is remarkable that zero-focalisation in homodiegetic voice is the standard narrative mode that effectively governs the other two types: external and internal focalisation.