Folk literature characteristics of “Bilawhar wa Budasf”
Faraj Qadri Al Fakhrani
Using a folk literary perspective, this study revisits Arabic literary texts from different ages. The writer believes that these writings were influenced by the prevailing cultures of the authors’ times.
There have never been clear boundaries between formal and folk literature, and they share some characteristics.
This study aims to explore existing folk literature, comparing it to other literary models with similar values and morals. It also attempts to identify the elements of folk literature.
The study focuses on the anonymously-authored book ‘Bilawhar wa Budasf’, which was edited and reviewed by Daniel Gimaret and published in 1976 by Mashriq Publishing House in Beirut. The 197-page book includes an 11-page introduction in French by the reviewer, and indexes. The prose, which is rich in alliteration and figurative language, shares some similarities with the Maqamah genre, which was popular when the book was written.
This story follows this pattern:
- Introducing the ethical values at the beginning with a short dialogue or sub-plot
- Re-emphasising the same values in proverbs and sayings
- Concluding with a moral or a profound maxim
The general structure of the book is based on a frame story, (the prince who becomes religious despite multiple temptations), which includes several other stories, (such as the story of the man who learns to communicate with animals; the story of the three friends; and the story of money, family and good deeds).
The study applies the structural approach to folk literature and attempts to offer a precise typology of such literature. This approach involves studying the form after analyzing its essential components to discover its internal constructs using Claude Lévi-Strauss’ paradigmatic analysis.