A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Forms of Expression in Arab Folkloric Epics

Issue 20
Forms of Expression in Arab Folkloric Epics

This study explores the different forms of expression in Arab folkloric epics. Although these forms of expression add artistic value to the epics, they also lead to confusion as to genre. This study discusses the typology of the epic, and explores whether expressive techniques add to the epic’s value or whether they just act as adornment to the structure and thematic issues. 

Many believe that Arab folkloric epics were created in complex historical, social and cultural conditions. The epics always feature a heroic character who reflects the aspirations of Arab society; such aspirations include the people’s feelings, thoughts, and expectations of courage and chivalry. 

In other words, these epics seek to establish an ideal for everyone in the society and to enable them to play their respective roles.

The epics’ narrators draw on various arts, borrowing from disciplines such as history, genealogy, poetry, oratory and traditional letter writing. 

According to many scholars, the ability to combine several arts and disciplines in a melting pot for the main theme of the narration means that the folkloric epic was the nucleus for the Arab novel.


Features of folkloric epics: 

1. Folkloric epics are often diverse in form and content, because they include various arts and employ expressive forms such as verse and prose.

2. They use several sources of knowledge and life experiences in an attempt to approach reality.

3. They bridge the gaps between the different literary genres.

4. They are informative and educational and they serve as a means for one generation to pass knowledge to the next.

5. Folkloric epics have flexible plots and structures that allow the inclusion of other arts.

6. Folkloric epics help to preserve traditional forms of expression that have not been accorded much interest, because the epics are related to social, cultural, political, economic, and literary conditions that are rare or non-existent at present.

7. Folkloric epics are an example of what modern critics call overlapping genres; these epics are not restricted by form, content and the limits of artistic features. The folkloric epic preceded many creative arts by permitting an overlap between different genres and arts; we find the same happening in the modern novel.

Salih Jadid


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