Can a writer help to bring about a more just society? This question was at the heart of the movement of al-adab al-multazim, or committed literature, which claimed to dominate Arab writing in the mid-twentieth century. By the 1960s, however, leading Egyptian writers had retreated into disillusionment, producing agonized works that challenged the key assumptions of socially engaged writing. Rather than a rejection of the idea, however, these works offered reinterpretation of committed writing that helped set the stage for activist writers of the present. David DiMeo focuses on the work of three leading writers whose socially committed fiction was adapted to the disenchantment and discontent of the late twentieth century: Naguib Mahfouz, Yusuf Idris, and Sonallah Ibrahim. Despite their disappointments with the direction of Egyptian society in the decades following the 1952 revolution, they kept the spirit of committed literature alive through a deeply introspective examination of the relationship between the writer, the public, and political power. Reaching back to the roots of this literary movement, DiMeo examines the development of committed literature from its European antecedents to its peak of influence in the 1950s, and contrasts the committed works with those of disillusionment that followed. Committed to Disillusion is vital reading for scholars and students of Arabic literature and the modern history and politics of the Middle East.
Committed to Disillusion
Activist Writers in Egypt from the 1950s to the 1980s
8 October 2016
For sale worldwide
Archaeology of Literature: Tracing the Old in the New
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
Archaeology of Literature: Tracing the Old in the NewEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
This issue of Alif investigates the different strata constituting texts, and the presence of older material (myths, classics, hymns, rituals, romance, philosophical fragments, etc.) as subtexts in literature. Articles explore the processes and modalities of such inclusions in a given work or the corpus of an author. The issue also includes critical essays on the nature of continuity and correspondence in plots, characters, and styles as well as redeployment of older motifs in modern and postmodern works.
Contributors: English section: Walid Bitar, Leslie Croxford, Ananya Kabir, Rondo Keele, Steven Nimis, John Rodenbeck, Edward Said, Doris Shoukri, Mounira Soliman, Steffen Stelzer. Arabic section: Mohammed ‘Ajina, Mohammed Birairi, Ayman Al-Desouky, Hasab al-Sheikh Ja‘far, Scheherazade Hassan, Sami Mahdi, Samia Mehrez, Mai Muzaffar/Rafa Nasiri, Lamis Al-Nakkash/Doris Shoukri, Nagwa Sha‘ban....read more
The Imaginary and the Documentary: Cultural Studies in Literature, History, and the Arts
Edited by Ferial Ghazoul 75
The Imaginary and the Documentary: Cultural Studies in Literature, History, and the ArtsEdited by Ferial Ghazoul
This issue of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics is devoted to the intersection of the imaginary and the documentary, the fictional and the cultural in the three genres of literature (poetry, fiction, and drama), in history, in film (feature and documentary), in photography, in plastic arts, and in architecture. Collage in art, portrait paintings, political poetry, archival footage in films, the historical novel, and the metaphors of historiography are some of the examples that demonstrate the interfacing between the imaginary and the documentary. Subjectivity and ideology of the artist and scholar might be couched in a flight of fantasy or in a rational argument, but in both cases they are joined to a specific worldview that is analyzed and discussed. Contributors: Abdel Rahman El Abnoudy, Emad Abdel Latif, Saeed Alwakil, Tamim El Barghouti, Judith Butler, Safaa Fathy, Tahany El Gebaly, Ahmed Haddad, Sabry Hafez, Chouaib Halifi, Stuart Hall, Barbara Harlow, Ahmed Heakl, Jeffrey Herlihy, Ahmed Abdel Mo‘ty Higazi, Abdullah Ibrahim, Walid El Khachab, Jalal Uddin Khan, Hasna Lebbady, Iman Mersal, Helmi Salem, Stephanie Schwerter, Basheer El Sibaei, Larbi Touaf, John Carlos Rowe, Angela Vaupel, Elizabeth Wickett, Shaaban Yusuf....read more
Post-Colonial Discourse in South Asia
Edited by Stephen Alter 75
Post-Colonial Discourse in South AsiaEdited byStephen Alter
This issue of Alif explores a considerable variety of themes and problems that exist in contemporary South Asia, offering perspectives on poetry and fiction, popular culture and mythmaking, as well as the enduring resonance of Gandhian rhetoric and philosophy. Contributors confront environmental degradation and social injustice, post-colonial interpretations of Shakespeare, and the terrifying plague of AIDS, perhaps the first truly global epidemic. Despite the undeniably serious problems that afflict the people of South Asia, there is also much to celebrate after half a century of independence. There is a pervasive sense that the subcontinent has finally emerged from lingering shadows of the British Raj, asserting a new and ascendant identity, through art and literature, music, film, and popular culture. Alif Vol. 18...read more
16 color illus.
Literature and Journalism
Edited by Hala Halim 75
Literature and JournalismEdited byHala Halim
The articles in Alif 37 address the intersection of literature and journalism, in a wide variety of Arabophone, Francophone, Anglophone, and Latin American contexts, analyzing the literary in relation to an array of journalistic genres and forums, including the interview, investigative journalism, the questionnaire, the blogosphere, creative non-fiction and reportage, literary websites, cultural periodicals, the autobiographical essay, and writers’ opinion articles. Complemented by the testimonies of two journalist–littérateurs and an interview with an artist–poet–art critic, the studies present fresh aspects of Arab literary modernity, littérature engagée, the politics of reception and translation in cultural journalism, canon-formation in relation to journalism, the journalistic delineation of a literary generation’s profile, gender and censorship of creative writers, and revolution and civil strife....read more
15 November 2017