THE ADVENTURES OF SAYF BEN DHI YAZAN: An Arab Folk Epic by Lena--Ed. & Trans. Jayyusi

THE ADVENTURES OF SAYF BEN DHI YAZAN: An Arab Folk Epic

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The first (partial) translation into English of an indigenous chivalric romance set in the Nile Valley and originally composed sometime during the 13th through 16th centuries. Jayyusi's lively English version--a prose tale studded with frequent verse interpolations--reproduces approximately one-quarter of the 2,000-page Arabic original: the story of the eponymous Sayf, a Muslim ruler of Yemen before the formal establishment of Islam, in his battles against (mainly Ethiopian) ""infidels""; encounters with various jinns, monsters, and other supernatural beings and forces; and, most interestingly, quest for a wife and for an accommodation with women (who are here something more than the pallid virgins of conventional romance)--especially in his adventures in the City of Maidens and in his conflict with his scheming mother Qamariyya, a startlingly avaricious and lustful creature who is the tale's most vivid and memorable character. A charming and agreeable surprise, similar (as noted in an introduction by Harry Norris) to such corollary works as Ariosto's Orlando Furioso and, of course, The Arabian Nights. A welcome gift to Western readers.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.