Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abū Shādūf Expounded

Unique in pre-twentieth-century Arabic literature for taking the countryside as its central theme, Yusuf al-Shirbini’s Brains Confounded combines a mordant satire on seventeenth-century Egyptian rural society with a hilarious parody of the verse-and-commentary genre so beloved by scholars of his day.

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The first volume, Volume 1, al-Shirbini outlines his three primary Rural “types”–peasant farmer, village man of religion and the rural dervish, revealing a myriad of anecdo which reveal the lack of knowledge and dirtiness, the illiteracy as well as the lack of proper religious knowledge, and the crime of all. 

The author follows this with volume Two with a 47-line poetry said to be written by a peasant identified as Abu Shaduf, who charts the changes in his fortune and laments, most importantly, the lack of access to delicious food that his poverty has forced him to.

Employing the scholarly tools of the elite literary world, al-Shirbini reacts to the poem in a manner of mockery and ridicule, sprinkling his satire of the uninformed rural with numerous tangents to food, love and flatulence.

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The book is funny, hilarious and brutal, Brains Confounded is a genre that has not been recognized that is largely unstudied in Egypt’s Ottoman history. It is an outstanding work in significance for studying the premodern dialect of Egyptian Arabic, pitting the “coarse” rural masses against the “refined” and urbane in an argument for cultural and religious supremacy with a major concentration on the creation of verse as a gauge of social acceptance.

A bilingual Arabic-English edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01ANXTSRO
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ NYU Press; Bilingual edition
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 12, 2016
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1886 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 826 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
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