مفهوم الصيغ المجازية بين التراث العربي والنقد المعاصر / The Concept of Metaphoric Constructs in Medieval Arabic Criticism and Modern Poetics


Sabry Hafez



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حافظ, صبري; Hafez, Sabry

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[Since Christine Brooke-Rose complained in the introduction to her pioneering work A Grammar of Metaphor (1958) that "most studies of metaphor, from Aristotle to the present day, have been concerned with the idea-content, rather than with the form," the study of metaphorical expressions has changed radically in emphasis, concern and direction. Yet the student of Arabic poetics has never complained of what led her to undertake her admirable project. For her new linguistic/grammatical approach to the study of metaphor is almost identical to that of the medieval Arab literary theorist, 'Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī (400-470 AH/1010-1080 AD), particularly in his seminal work Dalā'l al-I'jāz. This article endeavours to orient the study of Arabic classical criticism towards a comparative approach in an attempt to place the contribution of the Arab medieval critics in the current debate of literary theory. It starts by pointing to the fact that the major work in classical Arabic criticism is text-centred and highly concerned with the problems of literary structure. It posits the approaches of medieval Arabic scholarship in contrast to the logocentric methods of classical Western critics. This is necessary because of the need to root modern critical theory in the Arab world in Arabic tradition on the one hand, and on the other hand, to bring the contribution of Arab critics to the attention of modern critical theorists abroad by familiarizing them with the early works of distinguished Arab scholars. This is also needed to bridge the intellectual gap with classical Arabic criticism and to sharpen the rubrics of modern critical endeavour by granting them solid traditional background. The initial point of departure of this article is to reveal the semiotic basis of al-Jurjānī's concept of language and its affinity with such modern works as those of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and Louis Hjelmslev (1899-1965). It demonstrates how the semiotic basis of his linguistic concepts permeates his understanding of metaphoric modes of expression and his analysis of the way in which they engender meaning. He was aware of the subtle process of interaction between form and content and of the ways in which the change of linguistic construction modifies the very structure of the communicative process. Al-Jurjānī's concept of language was ahead of its time, for it not only included a semiotic basis for the sign but also for the network of relationships operating in the process of generation of meaning. The article then studies the basic findings of Brooke-Rose and her method in establishing a grammar of metaphor and compares them with those of al-Jurjānī and other critics. Al-Jurjānī's awareness of the meaning's ability to generate further meaning through the process of metaphorical construction was more sophisticated than some modern concepts of simple replacement, pointing formulae and linking.]

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