Cover Image of THEATRE FROM MEDIEVAL CAIRO: Manuscript Illumination. Folio from a copy of Al-Jaziri’s Treatise Automata, Mameluk Dynasty, (1206 AD).
Volume 1

The Arab Aristophanes

The Arab Aristophanes by Marvin Carlson
 Arab StagesVolume 1, Number 1 (Fall 2014)
 ©2014 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

This article appeared in the Summer, 2013 issue of Comparative Drama (151–66) and received the 2014 Oscar Brockett Essay Prize for the year’s best essay in theatre studies awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research.

The thirteenth-century Egyptian playwright Ibn Daniyal is slowly coming to Western attention as one of the most important dramatists of the middle ages.  The fact that he wrote for the puppet theatre, a form often thought of as artistically inferior by both Arab and Western scholars, and the fact that he wrote in Arabic, a language which most Western scholars incorrectly think produced no drama before the colonial period, have doubtless both contributed to his long eclipse.  In the Arab world poetry has always been regarded as the highest literary form, and since Ibn Daniyal was one of the most honored poets of his time it is as a poet that he has been remembered in that world, and the three plays created late in his career given comparatively little attention.

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