11 - 17 November 1999
Issue No. 455
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
A spirit of enchantment
Last month Cairo celebrated 100 years since the publication of Qassem Amin's "The Liberation of Women". Fayza Hassan reviews the book and reflects on the model and its inspiration
A new course of action
The full text of Qassem AminOs concluding chapter of The Liberation of Women.
Classical Poems by Arab Women -- A Bilingual Anthology, Abdullah al-Udhari, London: Saqi Books, London, 1999. pp240
Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea, Dunya Mikhail, Cairo and Leeds: Ishtar Publishing House, 1999. pp123
Tashazi Al-Zaman fil Riwaya Al-Haditha (The Fragmentation of Time in the Modern Novel), Amina Rashid, Cairo: GEBO, 1998. pp194
Mulid! Carnivals of Faith, Photographs by Sherif Sonbol, Text by Tarek Atia, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1999. pp96
A regard from afar
Les Couleurs de l'infamie, Albert Cossery, Paris: Editions Joelle Losfeld, 1999. pp132
Two literary journals
*Journal of Arabic Literature, Volume XXX, No. 2, Leiden: Brill, 1999
*Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures, Volume 2, Number 2, Basingtoke: Carfax Publishing Taylor & Francis Ltd, 1999
To the editor
At a glance
By Mahmoud El-Wardani
Magazines*Al-Hadatha Al-Tabi'a fil Thaqafa Al-Misriya (Dependence in Modern Egyptian Culture), Sayed El-Bahrawi, Cairo: Mirette Publications, 1999. pp233
*Fi Wada' Al-Qarn Al-'Ishrin (Farewell to the 20th Century), Ramzi Zaki, Cairo: Al-Mostaqbal Al-Arabi, 1999. pp442
*Al-Yahoud fi Misr Al-Mamloukiya (The Jews in Mameluke Egypt), Mahasen Mohamed El-Waqqar, Cairo: GEBO, 1999. pp471
*Misr wa Riyah Al-'Awlama (Egypt and the Winds of Globalisation), Mahmoud Abdel-Fadil, Cairo: Al-Hilal, 1999. pp264
*Taw'am Al-Solta wal Jins (The Twin Issue of Power and Sex), Nawal El-Sa'dawi, Cairo: Dar Al-Mostaqbal Al-'Arabi, 1999. pp257
Books:*Al-Kotob: Wughat Nazar (Books: Viewpoints), monthly magazine, November 1999, Cairo: The Egyptian Company for Arab and International Publication
*Al-Arabi, a monthly magazine, November 1999, Kuwait: Ministry of Information
*Mediterraneans: Voices from Morocco: a quarterly publication, winter 1999
*Ahwal Misriya (Egyptian Chronicles), a quarterly magazine, autumn 1999, Cairo: Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies
*Al-'Osour Al-Jadida (New Eras), monthly magazine, issue no. 1, 1999, Cairo: Dar Sinai
*Al-Hilal, monthly magazine, Oct 1999, Cairo: Al-Hilal Publishing House
*Amkena (Places), an occasional publication, 1999, Cairo: Samizdat
*Adab wa Naqd (Literature and Criticism), Monthly literary magazine, Oct. 1999, Cairo: Progressive National Unionist Party publications
*Nour, Occasional Review of Books, Fall 1999, Cairo: Arab Women's Publishing House
To see other book supplements go to the ARCHIVES index.
Illustrations courtesy of International Commitee of the Red Cross
"Folk drawings and tales", Cairo, 1996
Two literary journals*Journal of Arabic Literature, Volume XXX, No. 2, Leiden: Brill, 1999
In the lengthiest of the three articles in this volume, Hussein Kadhim of Dartmouth College provides an interpretation of Iraqi poet Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab's 1956 poem, Fi al-Maghrib al-'Arabi (The Arab Maghrib) as an anti-colonial reappropriation and re-writing of T S Eliot's The Waste Land. A finally modulated discussion of the Western debates about the interrelation between culture and imperialism in the wake of World War I, and of Eliot's complicit if not uncomplex statements on the subject, contextualises what Kadhim sees as "the coloniality of The Waste Land".
This, to Kadhim, consists in "Eliot's colonizing of the mythological spaces of "inter alia, the 'Near East'" -- a form of "metaphoric", as opposed to "cartographic", colonisation, and hence to Al-Sayyab's decolonising strategy in this poem dedicated "To the great Arab Mujahid Messali al-Hadj", the Algerian nationalist leader, a strategy whereby The Waste Land's design is subverted by a re-centering of Arab issues, as well as profuse references to Arabic heritage, Islamic sources and Near Eastern myths.
Among the many examples analysed by Kadhim, Al-Sayyab's manipulation in the poem of the pattern of death followed by rebirth and regeneration associated with the Tammuz myth is most "key". Accessed by Al-Sayyab and his generation via Jabra Ibrahim Jabra's translation of Frazer's volume about the subject, as well as seen at work in The Waste Land, the Tammuz myth is here re-appropriated, "Arabized and Islamicized, [to] form... the very structural as well as thematic basis" of the poem.
In "Living on the Edge: Sabah al-Kharrat Zwayn's Poetic Writings", Mona Takieddine Amyuni, of the American University of Beirut, adapts from Edwar El-Kharrat's critical writings on contemporary Egyptian prose the term "new sensibility" to describe contemporary Lebanese literature, specifically the novel. To Amyuni, this emergent sensibility owes itself to the harrowing experience of the Lebanese Civil War which has prompted Lebanese writers "to find a new alphabet to express their physical and spiritual estrangement."
In her study of the half-Lebanese, half-Spanish writer Zwayn, Amyuni draws, albeit at times reluctantly, on Roland Barthes' concept of écriture, which comprises "the triad of language/style/ecriture". Zwayn's shift from writing in French to writing in Arabic is read by Amyuni as a direct effect of the blurring of identities during the war, and hence an "anchoring", self-healing gesture, comparable to that of other Lebanese authors.
Analysing, with recourse to Barthes' terminology, the "nervous... staccato" style of Zwayn's poetic prose, which centres on "the extremely dense struggle with language and lover", Amyuni nevertheless withholds judgement on whether style is also "biological", as Barthes suggests. Instead, her own contributions to scholarship on women's writings notwithstanding, Amyuni deliberately leaves the issue of how gender affects style open-ended, prefering instead to endorse the contribution of both "women and men writers" to the creation of the nouveau roman in Beirut.
Jaroslav Stetkevych's literary-historical article "The Hunt in Classical Arabic Poetry: From Mukhadram Qasidah to Umayyad Tardiyyah", traces the development of the hunting topos from a component in pre-Islamic and Mukhadram poetry to its emergence as a shorter, but "free-standing hunt poem, the tardiyyah, in the Umayyad period."
The issue closes with two reviews: Muhsin Al-Musawi's review of
Roger Allen's The Arabic Literary Heritage: The Development of its Genres and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), and Brannon Wheeler's review of Fabrizo Pennacchietti's Susanna nel deserto: Riflessi di un racconto biblico nella cultura arabo-islamica (Torino: Silvio Zamorani editore, 1998).
In her article about Lebanese novelist Ilham Mansur, Michelle Hartman, Hofstra University, adapting Julia Kristeva's term "intertextuality", proposes the term "linguistic intertextuality", which she defines as "the use of the vocabulary, syntax and/or other signs and symbols of a language in a text which is written in another language." Under this working definition, Hartman analyses the underpinnings of Mansur's incorporation, within the matrix of a simplified fusha (classical Arabic), of French words written in Latin script, as well as 'amiya (colloquial Arabic).
Drawing on the Kristevian idea that one of "the goals of literature [being...] the creation of a 'new poetic language'" Hartman approaches Mansur's "interlinguistic project" via a mapping in of the theories of Gloria Anzaldua, M Nourbese Philip and Andre Lorde. As for Mansur's reproducing French words, in Latin script, within the Arabic texts of her two "Hiba" novels, Hartman contends that to have translitterated them into Arabic would have been to reproduce a bourgeois, pretentious gesture. By inserting the words in Latin script, the argument goes, Mansur retains their foreignness, while making sure not to alienate non-French-speaking readers by weaving in a translation. Through the example of Mansur's use of the word fantasmes (specters, visions, or -- as is the case in this context -- sexual fantasies), Hartman also demonstrates how Mansur introduces the translation not by opting for any pre-existing Arabic word, but by coining an Arabic neologism for it (hawamat), which is interpreted as "demonstrat[ing] Mansur's desire to create new discourses in Arabic about sexuality and sensuality."
As to the colloquial Arabic that Mansur occasionally intersperses in her text, Hartman concludes that the aim of this exercise is both to "show how emotion and personal responses are embedded in language", and "to undermine the conventions of fusha". Inter-linguistic borrowings and transpositions are also the subject of Mohamed Meouak's article about Algerian second-generation French immigrant novelist Azouz Begag's Beni ou le Paradis Privé. Meouak divides the various linguistic registers seen in Begag's novel into five categories of expression: those taken over from "Algerian dialect", argot, or slang, French expressions, expressions created by word-play and puns often involving both Arabic and French, French phrases pronounced in an Arabised manner, and finally Arabic words that have long since become incorporated into French. In such polyglossic negotiations within the texts of Begag and other "Beure" writers, Meouak detects the preservation of what roots survive and the continual search for integration.
The volume also comprises Mahmoud Ghanayim's "Characters Narrate Their Own Tragic Ends: a study of the endings of five novels by Najib Mahfuz", which studies the development, across two decades, of the shift in narrative voices with regard to the endings of five Mahfouz novels, contending that Mahfouz gradually shifted from an external narrator to an internal one.
In the prefatory remarks that introduce excerpts she has translated from Edwar El-Kharrat's novel Rama and the Dragon, Ferial Ghazoul, American University in Cairo, speaks of the text's "scattered references to an anagrammatic fable", the unravelling of which story-within-the-story, has guided her choice of extracts. Nedal Al-Moussa of Amman University presents an all too brief "social psychological interpretation" of Youssef Idris's short-story Snobbism (in his 1971 collection House of Flesh), in which she draws on Gustave Le Bon's pronouncements on "crowd behaviour" as well as more recent theories about group psychology.
The issue also contains an article in German by Ulrich Marzolph, as well as an article by Mona Takieddine Amyuni on "The Arab Artist's Role in Society. Three Case Studies: Naguib Mahfouz, Tayeb Salih and Elias Khoury."
Reviewed by Hala Halim