Ibn Sina’s Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric makes substantial contributions to the theory and practice of rhetoric to accommodate Ibn Sina’s target audience of politicians, religious leaders, and fellow intellectuals. In this process of the recontextualization, main terms and roles acquire new meanings. One of Ibn Sina’s main contributions is his theory on style where, in an unprecedented attempt by Arabic commentators, he hybridizes rules of Arabic style with Greek ones. The simple, logical, and imaginative connections he makes between the two languages and the advice on how to use style gracefully are fascinating and merit extensive analysis.
Monsters have been studied in relation to the medieval Western tradition, such as travel writing. However, the monstrous has not been thoroughly studied in relation to medieval Arabic texts. Moreover, there are no comprehensive comparative studies between the two traditions: the Western and the Arab. In this paper, I compare the treatment of the monstrous in both traditions. I take John Mandeville’s The Travels (14th century) and Ibn Fadlan’s Epistle or Risala (10th century) as my case study, where the two travelers encounter the monstrous and describe it. The two authors’ reactions reveal the conceptual framework that each culture entertains in relation to the monstrous. I use Nelson Goodman’s concept of world making as my theoretical lens to approach the topic.
During the Middle Ages the Iberian literary world is defined by motifs and themes of war, religion, and dichotomy as seen in the Latin oral Epic tradition and as such, frequently portrayed the polarity of good Christian and bad Muslim characters. There are medieval texts, however, that break this trend and depict heroic versions of Muslim characters commonly seen in later literary genres like the ‘Novelas Morsicas’, considered part of the chivalric Romance literary tradition of the Renaissance. Although the chivalric Romance tradition is commonly tied to the Western Latin Epic, works like 13th-century Al-Ziyad ibn ‘Amir al Kinani that also form part of popular Andalusi literary texts, links back to the Arab sirat. While the origin of the Spanish chivalric novel, either Western or Eastern, may remain in debate, the presence of both literary traditions in medieval Iberia suggest a hybrid literary product influenced by literary and cultural polysystems. As such, this invesitgaiton intends to show that the idealization that emerges in the ‘Novelas Moriscas’ like El Albencerraje y la Bella Jarifa, does not appear spontaneously, but rather develops over time, culturally influenced by the literary and cultural landscape of Medieval Al-Andalus as seen in Al-Ziyad ibn ‘Amir al Kinani.