Poetics of Spiritual Instruction

Farid al-Din ?Attar and Persian Sufi Didacticism

Austin O'Malley

ca. 20,75
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft


Much Persian sufi literature is explicitly didactic, aiming to instruct its readers and motivate pious reform. Moving beyond a recapitulation of religious content, The Poetics of Spiritual Instruction investigates the performative function of didactic poetry for mystical audiences, focusing in particular on the verse of Farid al-Din ?Attar, a central figure of the tradition best known for long narrative poems imbued with edifying sufi themes. Through a series of sensitive and creative readings, O'Malley shows how ?Attar uses frame-tales, metapoetic commentary and allegories to think through his relationship with his readers, imagine and guide their reactions to his work and perform his instructive authority. By teasing out this implicit, recipient-centred poetics, O'Malley recovers sufi didacticism's participatory, interactive character and shows how the act of reading was invested with ritual significance as a spiritual exercise aimed at the purification of the soul.

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