The Perfect, Impossible Love

Three Egyptian Film Adaptations of Romeo and Juliet

in Volume 28 (2016): Issue 3 (Dec 2016): Arab Shakespeares. Guest Editors: Katherine Hennessey and Margaret Litvin
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Perfect, impossible love has always enflamed the poet’s imagination. In Arab literature it is embodied by an old legend of a love against the odds, transformed by history into a myth: Majnūn Layla (Layla’s Madman). According to this legend, the poet Qays from the Banu ‘Amir tribe fell in love with his cousin Layla, but her parents refused to marry her to him, because in defiance of the rules of the tribe, Qays had written many poems about Layla chanting her beauty. Layla was then married to another man, and Qays, out of despair, went to wander in the desert like a madman until his death.