Al-Jāḥiẓ: In Praise of Books, by James E. Montgomery

University of Chicago Press, Chicago
This publication is a book review.
Details of the reviewed publication can be found through the Edinburgh University Press.
First paragraph from the review:
In Praise of Books contains the first full-scale alternative to Charles Pellat’s seminal interpretation of al-Jāḥiẓ’s corpus. Pellat thought of al-Jāḥiẓ as the first adīb, linking the purposes and structures of later adab compilations with al-Jāḥiẓ’s works. In Praise of Books instead paints al-Jāḥiẓ as the last mutakallim, citing a statement by Ibn Qutayba. By this, Montgomery means that he was last of those kalām masters engaging primarily in oral disputation and patronized by the caliphate; the practice of kalām became quite different thereafter. By treating al-Jāḥiẓ as a kalām practitioner first and foremost, Montgomery clears the slate to examine the genres that al-Jāḥiẓ drew upon to create an entirely new and unique form in Kitāb al-Ḥayawān.


Publication Type

Journal Name

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

Volume Number


Issue Number

1, pp. 196-198