Who likes spicy stories? 18+++

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Historian Dr. George Sawa has grouped translations of love stories and poems from ‘The Book of Songs’ by al-Isfahani (10th century) into his book “Erotica, Love and Humor in Arabia”. From the very first page you realize that it’s way different from everything you might have expected to read. For instance, “Make my pants my necklace, and stick my anklet to my earring” would more likely evoke images of the Kamasutra, rather than a historical text from 10th century Arabia, right?

The original text is based on a collection of oral and written stories that pictured the life and thoughts of poets and musicians of early Islamic societies in Mecca, Medina, Baghdad and Damascus. All stories depict a very open-minded society that was not ashamed to talk about sex, praise male and female bodies, as well as treat women as equal to men in their rights to openly express sexual desires. What impressed me the most is that al-Isfahani was basically sponsored by the government: vizier asked him to create a comprehensive account on all aspects of artists’ lives, and such spicy stories became part of the records too.

The book also contains a lot of romantic, flirtatious and heartbreaking love poems, that show all the richness and creativity of spoken craft of that time. All together they give some understanding of what would later become inspiration for the Arabian Nights, or even for more recent classic songs performed by Um Kalsoum, Warda, Farid El Atrash, and other singers of the Golden Era.

You will either LOVE it, or HATE it, but this read definitely won’t leave you indifferent. In any case, better keep this book away from children, otherwise you’ll face more tricky questions compared to where babies come from.

QUESTION: When you saw the title of this post, what did you expect to read about? Share below in comments.

Author: Iana Komarnytska
Photographer: Pedro Bonatto

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