Anthologies and Competing Canonizations: ʿImād al-Dīn al-Īṣfahānī (d. 597/1201) and Abū al-Maʿālī al-Ḥaẓīrī (568/1172) w/ Nathaniel Miller
Arabic literary history of the Seljuq, Fāṭimid, and Ayyūbid periods has been heavily shaped by a series of self-conscious continuations (dhayls) to al-Thaʿālibī’s (d. 429/1038) hugely influential Yatīmat al-dahr, particularly the Dumyat al-qaṣr of al-Bākharzī (d. 476/1075) and the Kharīdat al-qaṣr of ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī (d. 597/1201), a close advisor to Saladin. To a large extent these authors came from a similar milieu of Persian courts and elite urban educational institutions; al-Bākharzī and al-Thaʿālibī were, famously, acquaintances. A fourth text is often adduced, the Zīnat al-dahr of Abū l-Maʿālī al-Ḥaẓīrī (d. 568/1172), whose social profile, that of a Baghdadi book purveyor, was rather different from the other anthologists. ʿImād al-Dīn, during his time in Baghdad, made al-Ḥaẓīrī’s acquaintance during his time in Baghdad in the 550s/1157–1165 and used Zīnat al-dahr as a source for the Kharīda (completed in 573/1178). As Zīnat al-dahr has recently finally been published, al-Ḥaẓīrī and ʿImād al-Dīn’s methods of anthologizing can now be easily compared. My talk will discuss their divergent selection procedures, social networks, and aesthetic concerns.
Nathaniel A. Miller has a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Chicago (2016) and taught and researched at the University of Cambridge from 2016–2021, where he received a 3-year Leverhulme Early Career post-doctoral fellowship. He is now a research fellow in Arabic Humanities at New York University. His research focuses on poetic interpretation of space and geography in two periods, the early Islamic (500–750) and Ayyūbid (1171–1250). His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Arabica, Mediterranean Studies, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, BSOAS, and al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā.
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