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Extra info for On the art of medieval Arabic literature
Literary change, like linguistic change, is triggered by a variety of events—some clear, many obscure—but it follows such open lines as the original struc ture makes available. If the pre-Islamic qaşīda viewed human experience as absurd but coherent, the new poetry of the Islamic age —which did not choose religion for its vantage point—was forced to see human experience as meaningful under God but necessarily incoherent at the purely human level. Life had been half-mistress, half-ogre, but in poetry it had been taken as it was, and taken in its entirety.
24 T H E POET AS HERO A ll o f these descriptions are w orked in to the movement of C am illa’s arrival, past a crowd of spectators, among T u rn u s ’ allies; there is only so m uch portrayal as the event invites or requires. The Eneas poet is more than w illin g to stop and give us a catalogue o f C am ille’s charms. , etc. Leaving aside the question, w hich Auerbach is after, of the disparate expressive capabilities in Augustan L a tin and early Romance vernacular, we observe that the tw o audiences m ust have placed themselves at different distances fro m the works they were offered.
Thus, i f in a cata logue o f qualities the poet compares the lady’s w alk to the movement of a cloud, the result is very pretty, b ut not partic u la rly dynamic. 29 F ro m V ir g il (vii, 803-17), we learn that C am illa on foot can outstrip the winds, w ith a step so lig h t that she m ig h t run over field or sea and not touch an ear o f grain or a drop o f a wave. H e r royal attire is also taken care of, in a few glimpses. 27 M usil, Rwala, 153-54. 28 La o\oo n, Ch. xx. 29 E. Auerbach, Literatursprache und P u b li\u m in der lateinischen Spatantike und im M itte la lte r (Bern, 1958), 135-42.