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The Barber of DamascusNouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant$
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Dana Sajdi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785327

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785327.001.0001

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A Room of His Own

A Room of His Own

The “History” of the Barber of Damascus

(p.145) Chapter 5 A Room of His Own
The Barber of Damascus

Dana Sajdi

Stanford University Press

This chapter is a literary exploration of the barber, Ibn Budayr's, chronicle. While his text is a “history” (tārīkh), it is heavily informed by the genre of the oral popular epic (sīra). Ibn Budayr's text displays newness in content and form, ranging from the inclusion of tragicomic sex scandals, to its use of colloquial Arabic and rhyming prose, to its high dramatic pitch, to its irregular beat that effects a persistent sense of doom. Ibn Budayr disturbs the complicity and order of the scholarly chronicle, and renders it a disorderly stage for protest. Given that this chapter is about the text, it also examines the actual physical text: the material and technical aspects of the unique manuscript of the barber's book found at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. This section attempts to answer questions regarding possible owners and users of the barber's book.

Keywords:   Sīra (oral popular epic), tārīkh (history), Chester Beatty Library, audience, circulation

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