[EARLY ARABIC LITERATURE / HOMOEROTICA] Diwan Abu Nuwas. Edited and annotated by Iskandar Asaf.
ABU NUWAS, (747-813), Al-Matba'a al-Umûmîyyah, Cairo, 1898.
Contemporary quarter calf in black, lettering gilt title on the second of raised five bands to spine in Latin letters, floral borders of front and rear boards. Contemporary pastedown and end-papers. Title page with an ornate frame, text with double fillet frame. Roy. 8vo. (24 x 17 cm). In Arabic. 439 p. Slight cracking on the spine, period paper repair on the title page, some pages split up from the hinges, and occasional foxing on the margins and pages. Overall a very good copy.
The very rare early uncensored Arabic and the first "Iskandar Asaf" edition of this classical Arabic collection of poems by the first Islamic gay poet Abu Nuwas (747-813) including his homoerotic lyric poems in eleven parts, written under the court patronage of the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad during the reigns of Harun al-Rashid and Muhammed al-Amin.
The book is opening with an introduction by Iskandar Asaf (pp. 2) and one of the earliest printed biographical information about Abu Nuwas (pp. 3). Asaf's detailed critics of Abu Nuwas' poetry with examples through some selected verses are included before the Diwan (pp. 4-16). Next to the poems, a one-paged epilogue by Asaf (pp. 437), and at the end of the book, there's a 'fihrist' [i.e. content] page (pp. 439).
Abu Nuwas' diwan, his poetry collection, may be divided by genre into panegyric poems, elegies, invective, courtly love poems on men and women, and poems of penitence, hunting, and wine poems. His erotic lyric poetry, which is often homoerotic, is known for over 500 poems and fragments. His poems were likely written to entertain the Baghdad elite.
"Nuwas' writing ridicules heterosexual propriety, the condemnation of homosexuality, the alcohol ban, and Islam itself." (Wikipedia).
While his works were in circulation freely until the early years of the twentieth century, the first modern censored edition of his works was published in Cairo, in 1932. In January 2001, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture ordered the burning of some 6,000 copies of books of Nuwas's homoerotic poetry. In the Saudi Global Arabic Encyclopedia entry for Abu Nuwas, all mentions of pederasty were omitted.