Love, Madness, and Poetry: An Interpretation of the Maǧnūn Legend

Publication Year



As‘ad E. Khairallah, Ph.D. 1972.

In the confrontation between the "I" and the Other, a "thirst for the Absolute" seems to make this world look like a desert and to set sensitive souls on an unremitting quest for the hidden Water of Life. Although many a journey may lead to a mirage, these journeys do not fail to endow life with a meaningful goal, and to enliven it with hope. For its visions of the Invisible, pre-Islamic Arabia found its guides in poets, seers, and madmen. The sa'ir was a combination of all three. But his vision was only one of many: Arab society consisted of many tribes and worshiped many gods. However, with the rise of Islam, this multiplicity of visions was replaced by the Revelation, the many gods by the One, and the poets by the Prophet. In addition to organized religion, Greek rationalism and disillusionment with the material world led to a reaction that found one of its best expressions in the Magnun figure.

Table of Contents



Chapter One. Madness or poetic Vision

Chapter Two: The Cultural Background and the Early Versions of the Magnun Legend I. Oral Tradition II. The Role of the SâAr in the Heroic Age III. Islam and the Poet IV. Ta wil and Süfism V. The Early Versions of the Legend

Chapter Three: Wâlibî s Diwan of Magnun I. Wâlibî and his Qays Ibn al-Mulawwah al-Magnun wa-diwanuh II. The Magnün Archetype A. Poetry B. Love C. Madness III. The Unity and the Significance of the Archetype

Chapter Four: GÂMÏ I The New Complexity in Meaning and Form A. Ambiguity and Süfï Symbolism B. The Epic Romance and the Use of Convention II Gâmî s Laylï u Magnün A. The Archetypal Character and the Quest of Magnün B. Gamis Creative Use of Convention

Concluding Remarks

Appendix'. Al-Magnun

A Selected Bibliography


Series Title
Beiruter Texte und Studien, 0067-4931
Series Volume
Orient-Institut der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, in Kommission bei F. Steiner
Beirut; Wiesbaden