Written in mid-17th centuryEgypt, Risible Rhymesis in part a short, comic disquisition on 'rural' verse, mocking thepretensions and absurdities of uneducated poets from Egypt's countryside. The interestin the countryside as a cultural, social, economic, and religious locus inits own right that is hinted at in this work may be unique in pre-twentieth-centuryArabic literature. As such, the work provides a companion piece to its slightlyyounger contemporary, Yusuf al-Shirbini's Brains Confounded by the Ode of AbuShaduf Expounded, which also takes examples of mock-rural poems andsubjects them to grammatical analysis. The overlap between the two texts mayindicate that they both emanate from a common corpus of pseudo-rural verse thatcirculated in Ottoman Egypt.Risible Rhymes also examines various kinds of puzzlepoems-another popular genre of the day-and presents a debate between scholarsover a line of verse by the tenth-century poet al-Mutanabbi. Taken as a whole, RisibleRhymes offers intriguing insight into the critical concerns of mid-OttomanEgypt, showcasing the intense preoccupation with wordplay, grammar, andstylistics that dominated discussions of poetry in al-Sanhuri's day andshedding light on the literature of this understudied era.
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