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Keywords: The Life of the Prophet (Al-sīra al-Nabawiyya ) by Ibn Isḥāq — Ibn Hishām, Arabic historiographic tradition, belletristic elements, plot-organized narrative, prosaic and poetic components of a narrative.
For citation:

Kudelin A.B. Belletristic Elements in “The Life of The Prophet” by Ibn Isḥāq — Ibn Hishām. Studia Litterarum, 2019, vol. 4, no 1, pp. 28–69. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-1-28-69

Author: Alexander B. Kudeli
Information about the author:

Alexander B. Kudelin, Academician of the RAS, DSc in Philology, Professor, Scholarly Director of the Institute, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: January 22, 2019
Published: March 25, 2019
Issue: 2019 Vol. 4, №1
Department: World Literature
Pages: 28-69
DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-1-28-69
UDK: 82.091
BBK: 83.3(0)


The article considers belletristic elements included in The Life of the Prophet by Ibn Isḥāq — Ibn Hishām. The focus is on the compilers’ efforts to renew the stock principles of Arabic historiography by means of artistic expressiveness and plot- organized narrative, the technique which then was still under development. The article analyses Al-sīra’s grafic imagery, such as descriptions of characters — from without (their portraits, attire, etс.) and from within (their spiritual qualities, motives behind their actions, etc.) — and the setting details operative for vivid recreation of particular events. The article argues that prosaic and poetic components of the text were variously affected by belletristic rhetoric. The prosaic units were refreshed by the matter-of- factness, while the poetic units tended to conventionality and faithfully embodied the values of traditional poetics. The narrative of Al-sīra is indicative of the contrast between the ideals of pre-Islamic Age (muruwwa /murū’a/) and the demands of the Islamic epoch (dīn). The facts and passages discussed here allow us to read The Life of the Prophet as a text rich with elements indicative of belletristic mode integral to literary works.


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