Words sweeter than honey": The go-between in al-saraqustis"maqma 9

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This article focuses on the go-between character, Umm Amr, in ÒMaq¨ma 9Ó by the Andalusi writer al-SaraqusßÂ, ibn al-Aátarkâw (d. 1143). Umm Amr is one of the . rst literary manifestations of a character that continued to gain popularity in the medieval literature of the Iberian Peninsula, culminating in the . gure of the old whore, Celestina, protagonist of the medieval Spanish work that bears her name. Elements common to the later Spanish tradition that appear in this maq¨ma are the go-betweenÕs avaricious personality, her rhetorical skills, and the context of lovesickness in which she operates. Umm Amr appears in the . rst part of ÒMaq¨ma 9Ó in the role usually played by the trickster al-SadâsÂ. She initiates the trick by luring al-S¨ ib with her eyes and then enticing him with her speech. She makes promises, gives orations, composes poetry, and haggles. Umm Amr kindles al-S¨ ibÕs . re, and then promises to help him . nd a cure for his burning love, while all the time stringing him along and further enhancing his desire by talking of the beloved and giving him false hopes. Umm Amr is greedy, persuasive, and proud of her professional skills as a procuress in much the same way Celestina or Trotaconventos (the gobetween of the Libro de buen amor) is, and, like both those . gures, Umm Amr is characterized as a potential healer of the protagonistÕs lovesickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2003.


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