Correspondence of the Masters of Eloquence


Rasa’il al-bulagha’ (Correspondence of the masters of eloquence) is a compilation of classical epistolary writing assembled by the famous modern authority on the Arabic language Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali. It focuses on the writings of the eighth-century literary master ‘Abd Allah ibn Muqaffa’ and contains shorter pieces by other writers whom Kurd ‘Ali judged to be exemplars of style, such as ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn Yahya al-Katib and Ibn Qutayba. ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Muqaffa’, whose prose style is regarded as a model for writers to this day, is represented by several works in the anthology, including al-Adab al-kabir (The greater essay) and al-Adab al-saghir (The lesser essay), as well as his letter of advice to princes known as Risalah fi-al-sahabah (A letter of friendship). In order to assist the student in appreciating and emulating Ibn Muqaffa’, each of these works is fully vowelled. Each selection is preceded by a biographical-bibliographical essay detailing the textual history of the piece, extant manuscripts, and critical editions. Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali was a foremost figure in the revival of literary and journalistic Arabic. His influence extended until well into the 20th century and was based both on his own writing and his leadership of the prestigious Arabic Language Academy of Damascus, which he founded after World War I and continued to lead until his death in 1953. Kurd ‘Ali himself was not a native speaker of the language he did so much to influence. Born into a Kurdish family in northern Iraq, he developed an interest in languages at an early age. He is known for his fluency in Turkish and Arabic as well as his native Kurdish. He spent most of his life in Damascus, although he practiced journalism in Cairo and Paris for short periods. This is the second, expanded, edition of the work. It was published in Cairo at the well-known press operated by the Al-Babi al-Halabi brothers, Mustafa, Bakri, and ‘Isa.

Last updated: January 16, 2015