In Deadly Embrace

In Deadly Embrace

Arabic Hunting Poems

224 Pages

September 2023

ISBN: 9781479853182

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$30.00

Hardcover

Authors

Ibn al-Muʿtazz (d. 296/908) was an accomplished and prolific poet and author of works of literary theory and literary history. He was the direct descendant of six caliphs and was himself made caliph in 296/908, but ruled for only one day before he was killed by the palace guards, partisans of his brother al-Muqtadir.

James E. Montgomery is Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity Hall. His latest publications are Fate the Hunter: Early Arabic Hunting Poems, and Kalīlah and Dimnah: Fables of Virtue and Vice, with Michael Fishbein.

A collection of poems about nature and power

To Ibn al-Muʿtazz and his Abbasid contemporaries, the hunt was more than a diversion—it was the theater for their poetic and political endeavors, captured here in fifty-nine Arabic hunting poems, or ṭardiyyāt. The poems of In Deadly Embrace describe hunting expeditions with animals trained to hunt, including saluki hounds and birds of prey. Many were composed after these outings, when the hunting party gathered to enjoy the game they caught.

Poetry was central to Abbasid society and served as a method of maintaining networks of patronage and friendship; the poems in this collection reflect these power dynamics and allowed Ibn al-Muʿtazz—prince of the realm and in line for the caliphate—to explore his own relationship to social and political power and to demonstrate his fitness to rule.

Ibn al-Muʿtazz was an influential poet and literary theorist of the “Modernist” school of poetry. In Deadly Embrace merges the Modernists’ new techniques and styles with age-old themes: military prowess and wisdom, fitness to rule and comradeship, the camaraderie of the hunt and the cult of heroic masculinity. Groundbreaking and evocative, the poems paint vivid pictures of hunting scenes while posing deep questions about our attentiveness to the natural world and the relationship of the human to the nonhuman.