Arabic folk literature is a territory long neglected, and therefore still largely unexplored. This book represents the first full-length study in any language (including Arabic) of a genre hardly known in the West, and yet rich in surprises. The author, an academic Arabist who has resided inEgypt for a quarter of a century, has the intimate knowledge of colloquial Arabic needed to deal with material which not only contains linguistic elements unrecorded in any reference work, but also abounds in elaborate puns. In providing not so much an interpretation as an accurate and economicalrecord of facts and direct observations, the book will be of use to more than just linguists and literary historians; folklorists will encounter here a living, many-faceted, and fast changing art, and social scientists will acquire insights into a society whose practices and priorities are seldomreflected in the literature of the elite. In fact, the greater part of the book consists of integral texts, meticulously transcribed and translated, ranging from erotic tales to accounts of contemporary deeds of violence. One of its significant aspects lies in showing how few of the modernisticvalues of the educated Egyptian elite have percolated to the masses, and how questionable it is to take the literature of this elite as the main indicator of cultural change.