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"Peaks of Yemen I Summon": Poetry as Cultural Practice in a North Yemeni Tribe Paperback – May 24, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (May 24, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520082613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520082618
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[Caton's] linguistic and poetic analyses are thorough and pointed, without belaboring the fluid prose of his ethnography. . . . Caton goes a long way to demonstrate that oral literature is not merely reflective, but is constitutive of ideology and worldview. . . . [He] has done a superb job of persuading us of the power of poetry in social creation."--Deborah A. Kapchan, "Middle East and South Asia Folklore Bulletin

From the Inside Flap

"Caton's study joins a brilliant ethnography of tribal poetic tradition with a discussion of central issues in anthropological thought."—Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
The number of books written on Napoleon or the American Civil War exceeds the imagination. Diets, dogs, and data processing are often found on the shelves too. But then there are topics nobody ever thinks of taking up until one brave soul decides to give it a try. Over time, anthropology has moved closer to literature, using literary analysis and discourse. Steven Caton has combined research and thought on disparate, sometimes esoteric topics into a complex and fascinating book on the place of poetry in tribal Yemeni culture. I would be lying if I said it were easy to read. I imagine that the number of people who NEED to read or who WANT to read Caton's book is exceedingly small. Yemen is not even central to the thoughts of most anthropologists in the world. Thus, not only do you need to care about Yemen, but you should also have some expertise in poetry, in aesthetics, in ideas about social construction of self, and in such intellectual exercises as cultural theory and the poetic process. Though I am an anthropologist with an amateur interest in Yemen, I still came to this book lacking most of these things. I found it mighty rough going. Some academics and a few graduate students are probably the majority of Caton's readership. Too bad.
PEAKS OF YEMEN I SUMMON is an extraordinarily interesting work. It's not simply an ethnography of poetry in Yemeni society, though it could be called that; it's an attempt to tackle larger issues about ways of becoming a Yemeni man, about poetry and identity, about poetry and cultural change. Yemeni tribespeople, at least 20 years ago, used poetry as a vital weapon in life's battles---for honor, prestige, and persuasion.
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