Arabic Shadow Theatre 1300–1900: A Handbook
Shadow theater is an important element in Arab—and Ottoman—popular culture shedding light on the tastes, interests of ordinary people, as opposed to the elite. Because it never made its way into the official literary canon, no standard work on the subject has been produced until now. Li Guo, a professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, does a magnificent job researching, both texts and artefacts, and has arranged them, making each accessible to anyone, whether concerned with individual plays, specific performances or the tradition’s history. Dozens of synopses of plots, together with some translations are especially valuable. The shadow figures themselves are illustrated and cataloged, invaluable bibliographies and a glossary enhance the quality of the book. The one criticism is with Brill, which should have provided a native speaker to edit the text and correct the mistakes of English. A brilliant key work like this deserves better.