Arabic texts provide key to understanding early Spanish fiction
Professor of Spanish David Wacks has published “Popular Andalusi Literature and Castilian Fiction: Ziyad Ibn ‘Amir Al-Kinani, 101 Nights, and Caballero Zifar” in Revista de Poética Medieval 29 (2015): 311–335. A self-archived postprint is available at: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/19484
As it turns out, the popular literature of Muslim Spain was an important influence on early Spanish fiction. There is very little manuscript evidence of the popular (non-courtly) literature of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). For this reason it is difficult to assess its importance for the development of Spanish literature. Two recently discovered Arabic texts written in Muslim Spain, Ziyad ibn ‘Amir al-Kinani (Granada, ca. 1250) and the 101 Nights (Granada, 1234) are two examples of popular Arabic fiction that provide important information for our understanding of works of early Spanish fiction such as the Libro del Caballero Zifar (ca. 1300). The two Arabic works provide evidence of a bilingual culture of storytelling that nourished both Arabic and Spanish literary texts. In particular, the inclusion of themes from the medieval legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in Ziyad that predates the earliest translations of Arthurian texts into Spanish forces us to rethink both the sources of Zifar as well as the Iberian adaptation of Arthurian material in general.