Literary Criticism
English edition  
July  2017
304 pp.
ISBN 9781617978586
For sale worldwide

The View from Within

Writers and Critics on Contemporary Arabic Literature Edited by Ferial Ghazoul
Barbara Harlow

An anthology drawn from the Cairo-based journal Alif that opens a window onto contemporary Arabic literature and thought

This anthology drawn from the Cairo-based journal Alif opens a window onto contemporary Arabic literature and thought. The collection presents some of the pressing debates, polemics, and preoccupations of Arab writers and literary Arabists who have shared in the Arab cultural experience in the eighties and nineties.

Men and women writers from Iraq to Morocco, from Sudan to Syria, explore the genres of poetry, drama, and narrative. The voices of the younger generation of writers and critics alternate with those of established figures such as Naguib Mahfouz and Edward Said in discussions of diverse topics ranging from resistance, postcolonialism, and feminism to literary experimentation, acculturation, and interpoetics. Throughout, the dialectics of tradition and innovation, folklore and fiction, imagery and violence, place and exile, language and social action illustrate the variety of modern Arabic literary culture.

The View from Within illustrates the structures of Arabic literature and the ways in which various voices and traditions of Arabic writing converge in a city—Cairo—that is the symbolic focus of the Arab world’s struggle against forces of intellectual marginalization and obliteration. Perhaps the most persistent concern of this collection is how to preserve Arab cultural specificity and simultaneously belong to a global culture, how to be an individual and at the same time part of a larger human order that happens to be inequitable and, more often than not, hostile.

This volume will be valuable to readers of Arabic literature, students of modern Arab culture, and anyone with an interest om contemporary Arabic intellectual concerns, writing, and society.

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Ferial J. Ghazoul is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo and is the editor of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics. She is the author of studies on comparative, medieval, and modern literature, including The Arabian Nights: A Structural Analysis (1980) and Saadi Youssef (1988).

Barbara Harlow was a professor in the Department of English and in the Program in Comparative Literature at the Center for Middle East Studies, University of Texas at Austin. She was the author of studies in Third World literature including Resistance, Writing, and Political Detention (1992). 

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