Antar

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Excerpt from the introduction:
« Antar is no imaginary personage. He was the son of an Arab Prince of the tribe of Abs, by a black woman, whom his father had made captive in a predatory excursion: and he raised himself by the heroic qualities which he displayed from his earliest youth, and by his extraordinary genius for poetry, from the state of slavery in which he was born, to the confidence of his king, and to a preeminence above all the Chiefs of Arabia. He flourished during the close of the sixth, and the early part of the seventh century, of the Christian æra; there is, consequently, little or no allusion to the customs or institutions of Islamism throughout the work; though the Hero is frequently designated as “He by whom God organized the earth and the world for the appearance of the Lord of slaves.”
« The following Romance, as it may be called, was first put together, probably from traditionary tales current at the time, by Osmay, one of the eminent scholars, who adorned the courts of Haroun-al-Raschid, and of his two learned successors, Al-Amyn, and Al-Mamoun; and it still continues to be the principal source whence the story-tellers of the coffee-houses in Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, draw their most interesting tales: but, notwithstanding, its general circulation in the Levant, the name of Antar is hitherto only known to us in Europe, as that of the Author of one of the seven poems, suspended in the temple of Mecca, and from that circumstance called, The Moallakat.
The Author of this poem, and the Hero of our history, are identified, as well by the similar names which occur; in both; as by the insertion of the poem itself in the body of the history, when, after much persecution and opposition, Antar at length succeeds in suspending the poem within the Holy Sanctuary which surrounds the Kaaba.
« There is reason to believe that this is the first attempt to transpose into an European language, a real Arabian story, depicting the original manners of the Arabs of the desert, uncorrupted by the artificial and refined customs of the neighbouring cities in Syria, Egypt, and Persia.
The characteristics of the real Arabs or Bedowins are here presented in their native simplicity. An eager desire for the property of their neighbour; an unconquerable fondness for strife and battle; a singular combination of profuse hospitality, with narrow economy—quick perception—deep cunning—great personal courage, a keen sense of honour, respect for their women, and a warm admiration and ready use of the poetical beauties of their unrivalled language. »
This is the first volume of the series.
Distributed by GRAAL Editions

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