Alexander Key

Oct 4, 2022

On Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī's "Indications of Inimitability"

An interview with Alexander Key

New Books Network 2022

Great poetry or beautiful prose if often capable of challenging and delighting readers far more than dry, bland language. But why is that? Dalā’il al-Iʿjaz, or Indications of Inimitability, is a hugely influential Arabic text about exactly what it is that makes beautiful language beautiful. Its author, Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī, used a theoretical, almost scientific method to demystify poetry and its lasting effects. Professor Alexander Key discusses why he’s working on the first English translation of this text and the huge impact that Jurjānī’s work has had on Arabic literary criticism. Alexander Key is an associate professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His studies focus on the intellectual history of the Arabic and Persian-speaking worlds. He is the author of Language Between God and the Poets. See more information on our website,

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