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Vid pennan och vad man skriver! Om den skriftliga vändningen i den arabisk-islamiska kulturen

Journal article
Authors Tetz Rooke
Published in Chaos. Dansk-norsk tidsskrift for religionhistoriske studier
Volume nr 54
Issue II
Pages 19-41
ISSN 0108-4453
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 19-41
Language sv
Keywords Islamic culture; Medieval Islam; Arabic book culture; Arabic writerly culture; Arabic poetry; the codification of the Qur'an; the Arabic script
Subject categories Book and library history, Arabic language, Specific Literatures


It is often argued that the Arabic-Islamic culture was predominatly oral up until the advent of modernity. But recent research suggest a different interpretation. This article examines the problem of oral culture versus a culture of writing through readings of some primary sources, such as Kitab al-Hayawan by al-Jahiz, the Qur'an, and verses by the pre-Islamic poets Imru' al-Qays and Labid. It focuses on traces of literacy in the material, discussing in particular the history of the Arabic book as such and the evidence of different types of writing material like paper and pen. The conclusion supports the view that literacy was a dominat feature of classical Arabic-Islamic dulture, yet one that was complemented by an oral and aural dimensions that in some respects, notably religion, was eaqually important.

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