The Monk’s Daughter and Her Suitor An Egyptian Shadow Play of Interfaith Romance and Insanity

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Li Guo



The Egyptian shadow play commonly known as ʿAlam wa-Taʿādīr tells the story of a Coptic monk whose daughter falls in love with a Muslim merchant. Since its initial discovery in the 1900s, this remarkable play has slipped into oblivion. This article presents a survey of earlier research, an outline of the layers of the composite text based on all known textual and visual testimonies, an analysis of the building blocks—themed zajal song-cycles—and a summary of the sole working script that features dialogue as well. These findings will hopefully form a solid foundation for future research into this work, which in many ways is representative of Egyptian shadow plays in the Ottoman and early modern times.

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