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Title: The career of Mustafa Ibrahim 'Ajaj' : a giant of Egyptian popular literature
Authors: Cachia, Pier
Keywords: Arabic literature -- History and criticism
Arabic literature -- 19th century -- Terminology
Arabic prose literature -- Egypt -- History and criticism
Issue Date: 1977
Publisher: University of Malta
Citation: Cachia, P. (1977). The career of Mustafa Ibrahim 'Ajaj' : a giant of Egyptian popular literature. Journal of Maltese Studies, 11, 110-117.
Abstract: For about a thousand years, perhaps even longer, Arab creativity has found outlets not only in lofty compositions retaining the syntax (if not always the vocabulary) of the language in which the Quran was revealed, but also in the coining of proverbs, the singing of songs, the recitation of poems, the telling of tales, and the presentation of rather rudimentary playlets and puppet shows, all in the local dialects. Yet the immensely powerful and constant attachment of Arab intellectuals to their 'classical' language was such that only texts couched in this idiom were deemed worthy of serious attention, and it is these alone that Arab scholars and Orientalists alike habitually call 'Arabic literature' without further qualification. Anything expressed in the colloquial, when not openly scorned, was looked upon as mere entertainment; more often than not the text went unrecorded, the artistry unrecognized, the author unremembered. Modern Arabs have altered their attitude to the language quite substantially in some respects, but - perhaps for the very reason that they are caught up in momentous social and intellectual changes - only a handful of scholars amongst them have begun to give serious attention to this 'popular literature' which they are used to treating with more familiarity than respect. In this article, the author explores the career of Mustafa Ibrahim 'Ajaj. At least one of his publications is claimed to be descended from the Prophet through Al-Husayn. Either because he was not endowed with a good singing voice or because he was entitled to a higher social status, 'Ajaj was never a professional performer, but he was a prolific pen-and-paper versifier.
Appears in Collections:JMS, Volume 11
JMS, Volume 11
JMS, Volume 12

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