Shabbi, Abu Al-Qasim Al-

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shabbi, Abu Al-Qasim Al-


Born 1909 in the village of al-Shabbiya, near Tozeur; died 1934 in Tunis. Tunisian poet. One of the first romanticists in Arabic poetry; a classic author of modern Tunisian literature.

Al-Shabbi was the son of a Muslim judge who instilled in him the beliefs of M. Abdo and other Islamic reformers. In the early 1920’s he studied at the Zaytunah higher Muslim religious school in Tunis. He graduated from the Tunis School of Law in 1930. He first published his works in 1926.

Al-Shabbi had a perfect command of the classical traditions of Arabic poetry but contrasted it with the poetry of sentiment in the spirit of French romanticism, familiar to him from Arabic adaptations of the works of A. de Musset, A. de Lamartine, and T. Gautier. The romanticist rift between the ideal and the real was manifested in al-Shabbi’s works as the tragic contradiction between contemporary Tunisian society (”a dead world ... of ancient tombs”) and the yearning for a spiritual rebirth and personal freedom (the collection Songs of Life, published 1955).

In 1929, in a public lecture entitled “Poetic Imagination Among the Arabs” (published 1929), Shabbi criticized the Arabic classical heritage and spoke out harshly against the prevailing traditionalism, to which he ascribed the self-isolation of Arabic literature from life and from other literatures of the world.


Aghani al-hayah, 2nd ed. Tunis, 1966.
Al-khayal al-shi’ri ’nda al-’Arab. Tunis, 1961.
Rasa’ilal-Shabbi. Tunis, 1966.


Kudelin, A. B. “O putiakh razvitiia novoi arabskoi poezii.” In Vzaimosviazi afrikanskikh literatur i literatur mira. Moscow, 1975.
Namitokova, Z. A. “Literatura Tunisa.” In Sovremennye literatury Afriki. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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