Contrary to common perception, the fantastic in literature was not a modern European invention. Rather, the fantastic is present in Arabic narrative dating to the ninth century. The ‘imagination unbound’ can even be traced back to pre-Islamic mythical traditions.
Early Arab writers such as Abu al-‘Ala’ al-Ma‘arri and Manamat al-Wahrani used subversion, wit and sarcasm to critique social and political aspects of their world by mixing the real with the imaginary, the ordinary with the extraordinary, and the natural with the supernatural.
The Imagination Unbound contains Arabic and English introductions, and the orignial Arabic text of al-Adab al-‘Aja’ibi with commentary by the author.
About the Author
Kamal Abu-Deeb holds the Chair in Arabic at the University of London. He has taught at number of universities in the West and the Arab world. A poet and essayist, he has published many books and papers in both English and Arabic and was co-editor of the avant-garde journal Mawaqif.