Literature of Morocco

Literature of Morocco

Moroccan literature is a literature written in (Moroccan) Arabic, Berber or French, and of course particularly by people of Morocco, but also of Al-Andalus.

1000 - 1500

Moroccan literature saw its first flowering in the period of the Almoravid dynasty (1040-1147). In this period two writers stand out: Ayyad ben Moussa and Ibn Bajja and, in al-Andalus, Al-Tutili, Ibn Baqi, Ibn Khafaja and Ibn Sahl. An impression of a number of great poets of the period is given in anthologies and biographies like "Kharidat al Qsar" [Kharidat al-qasr wa-jaridat al-asr: Fi dhikr fudala ahl Isfahan (Miras-i maktub) by Imad al-Din Muhammad ibn Muhammad Katib al-Isfahani] , "Al Mutrib" and "Mujam as-Sifr". [cited in: Mohammed Berrada, La Grande Encyclopédie du Maroc, 1987, p. 41] From 1086 Morocco and Al-Andalus, with its rich tradition from the Umayyads formed one state and the Almoravid sultans stimulated culture in their courts and the country. Ibn Bassam dedicated his anthology "Dhakhira fî mahâsin ahl al-Gazira" to Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar and Ibn Khaqan his "Qala-id al-Iqyan" to Yusuf ibn Tashfin.

Under the Almohad dynasty (1147-1269) Morocco also experienced a period of prosperity and brilliance of learning. The Almohad built the Marrakech Koutoubia Mosque, which accommodated no fewer than 25,000 people, but was also famed for its books, manuscripts, libraries and book shops, which gave it its name; the first book bazaar in history. The Almohad sultan Abu Yaqub Yusuf had a great love for collecting books. He founded a great library, which was eventually carried to the Casbah and turned into a public library. Under the Almohads, the sovereigns encouraged the construction of schools and libraries and sponsored scholars of every sort. Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn Tufail, Ibn Zuhr, Ibn al-Abbar, Ibn Amira and many more poets, philosophers and scholars found sanctuary and served the Almohad rulers.

During the reign of the Marinid dynasty (1215-1420) it was especially Sultan Abu Inan Faris' ((r. 1349-1358)) who stimulated arts and literature. He built the Bou Inania Madrassa and created the library of the university of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez. At his invitation the icon of Moroccan literature Ibn Batuta returned to settle down in the city of Fez and write his Rihla or travelogue in cooperation with Ibn Juzayy. Abdelaziz al-Malzuzi (-1298) and Malik ibn al-Murahhal (1207-1300) are considered as the two greatest poets of the Marinid era. Historiographers were, among many others, Ismail ibn al-Ahmar and Ibn Idhari. Poets of Al-Andalus, like Ibn Abbad al-Rundi (1333 - 1390) and Salih ben Sharif al-Rundi (1204-1285) settled in Morocco, often forced by the political situation of the Nasrid kingdom. Both Ibn al-Khatib (1313-1374) and Ibn Zamrak, vizirs and poets whose poems can be read on the walls of the Alhambra, found shelter here. The heritage left by the literature of this time that saw the flowering of Al-Andalus and the rise of three Berber dynasties had its impact on Moroccan literature throughout the following centuries. [In the 10th century, the city of Cordoba had 700 mosques, 60,000 palaces, and 70 libraries, the largest of which had up to 600,000 books. In comparison, the largest library in Christian Europe at the time had no more than 400 manuscripts, while the University of Paris library still had only 2,000 books later in the 14th century. The libraries, copyists, book­sellers, paper makers and colleges across al-Andalus are said to have published as many as 60,000 treatises, poems, polemics and compilations each year. In comparison, modern Spain publishes 46,330 books per year on average (according to figures from 1996).]

University of Fez

From the beginning of the 12th century the University of Fez played an important rule in the development of Moroccan literature. Among the scholars who studied and taught there were Ibn Khaldoun, Ibn al-Khatib, al-Bitruji, Ibn Hirzihim (Sidi Harazim), Ibn Maymoun (Maimonides) and Al-Wazzan (Leo Africanus) . The writings of Sufi leaders have played an important role in Moroccan literature from this early period (e.g. Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili and al-Jazouli) until now (e.g. Muhammad ibn al-Habib).

1500 - 1900

The possession of manuscripts of famous writers remained the pride of courts and zawiyas throughout the history of Morocco until the modern times. The great Saadian ruler Ahmed al-Mansour (r.1578–1603) was a poet king. Poets of his court were Ahmad Ibn al-Qadi, Abd al-Aziz al-Fishtali. Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari lived during the reign of his sons. The Saadi Dynasty contributed greatly to the library of the Taroudant. Another library established in time that was that of Tamegroute. A large part of it remains today. [Dalil Makhtutat Dar al Kutub al Nasiriya, 1985 (Catalog of the Nasiri zawiya in Tamagrut), (ed. Keta books)] By a strange coincidence the complete library of another Saadian ruler has also been transmitted to us to the present day.Due to circumstances in a civil war the sultan Zidan (r.1603–1627) had his complete collection transferred to a ship. The commander of the ship 'stole' the ship and brought it to Spain where the collection was transmitted to El Escorial [Catalogue: Dérenbourg, Hartwig, Les manuscrits arabes de l'Escurial / décrits par Hartwig Dérenbourg. - Paris : Leroux [etc.] , 1884-1941. - 3 volumes.] .

Some of the main genres differed from what was prominent in European countries:
*Songs (religious poetry but also elegies and love poems)
*biographies and historical chronicles like the "Nuzhat al-hadi bi-akhbar muluk al-qarn al-hadi" of Mohammed al-Ifrani (1670-1745), and the chronicles of Muhammad al-Qadiri (1712-1773).
*accounts of journey's like the rihla of Ahmad Bennacer (1647-1717)
*religious treatises and letters like those of Muhammad al-Arabi al-Darqawi (1760 - 1823) and Ahmad Ibn Idris Al-Fasi (1760-1837)

Famous Moroccan poets of this period were Abderrahman El Majdoub, Al-Masfiwi, Muhammad Awzal and Hemmou Talb.

Modern times

Modern Moroccan literature began in the 1930s. Two main factors gave Morocco a pulse toward the development of modern Moroccan literature. Morocco, as a French and Spanish protectorate left Moroccan intellectuals the opportunity to exchange and to produce literary works freely enjoying the contact of other Arabic literature and Europe. During the 1950s and 1960s, Morocco was a refuge and artistic centre and attracted writers as Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Moroccan literature flourished with writers such as Mohamed Choukri, Driss Chraïbi, Mohamed Zafzaf and Driss El Khouri. Those novelists were just a few of the many novelists, poets and playwrights that were still to come.

In the 1960s, a group of writers founded a group called "Souffles" (Breaths) that initially was prohibited but later in 1972 gave impetus to the poetry and modern romantic works of many Moroccan writers.

List of Moroccan writers



*Otto Zwartjes, Ed de Moor, e.a. (ed.) "Poetry, Politics and Polemics: Cultural Transfer Between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa", Rodopi, 1996, ISBN 9042001054
*Monroe, J. T., "Hispano-Arabic Poetry During the Almoravid Period: Theory and Practice", Viator 4, 1973, pp. 65-98
*Najala al-Marini, "Al-Sh'ar al-Maghribi fi 'asr al-Mansur al-Sa'di", Rabat: Nashurat Kuliat al-Adab wa al-Alum al-Insania, 1999 (Analysis of the work of the main poets of the age of Ahmed al-Mansour)
*Lakhdar, "La vie littéraire au Maroc sous la dynastie alaouite", Rabat, 1971
*Jacques Berque, "La Littérature Marocaine Et L'Orient Au XVIIe Siècle", in: "Arabica", Volume 2, Number 3, 1955 , pp. 295-312

External links

*Poetry International Web, "Morocco" []
*Abdellatif Akbib, Abdelmalek Essaadi, "Birth and Development of the Moroccan Short Story", University, Morocco []
*Suellen Diaconoff, Professor of French, Colby College: "Women writers of Morocco writing in French", 2005 (Survey) []
*The Postcolonial Web, National University of Singapore, "The Literature of Morocco: An Overview" []
*M.R. Menocal, R.P. Scheindlin and M. Sells (ed.) "The Literature of Al-Andalus", Cambridge University Press (chapter 1), 2000 []
*Said I. Abdelwahed, Professor of English Literature English Department, Faculty of Arts, Al-Azhar University Gaza, Palestine, "Troubadour Poetry: An Intercultural Experience" []
*In Spanish: "Enciclopedia GER", P. Martsnez Montávez, "Marruecos (magrib Al-agsá) VI. Lengua y Literatura." [ retrieved on 28 February 2008]

ee also

* Culture of Morocco
* Music of Morocco

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