The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction

The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction

The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction

The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction

Synopsis

This edition includes new material on the Arabic novel up to 1993. It is a survey of the Arabic novel and its development from its beginnings in the 19th century until today. It traces the origin, early cultivation and the mature period after World War II of the Arabic novel.

Excerpt

The novel is a wonderfully restless, shifting genre, each individual example of it striving with varying levels of vigor and artistic subtlety to reflect, and, in some cases, to advocate, the relentless process of change. When such a genre pursues its purpose in a context as varied and dynamic as that of the Arabic-speaking world, we are faced with a topic of ever-expanding complexity. If that wealth of material presented a problem when the first edition of the current work was being prepared in the late 1970s, how much more is that the case some fourteen years later.

In the concluding chapter of the first edition I addressed the future of the novel genre in Arabic, drawing attention to experimental trends that were in evidence in the works of certain writers and expressing the hope that "the spirit of élan and even defiance" shown by Arab novelists thus far would continue to find a fruitful outlet in novelistic production. It will be the aim of this second, revised edition to explore the extent to which those expectations have been met. The publication of novels in Arabic and critical studies of them has indeed continued and expanded throughout the Arab world. From a Western scholarly perspective, the increasing prominence given to fiction by women writers--a topic to which I referred somewhat briefly in the first edition--has been reflected in an increased focus on feminist literary criticism in general and that devoted to Arabic literature in particular.

The award of the Nobel Prize in Literature to the Egyptian novelist, Najīb Maḥfūẓ, in 1988 has, needless to say, been the most significant event in the recent history of the novel in Arabic. The first edition of this very work had the honor of being a participant in the Nobel process, being one of the books on display in the hall in Stockholm during the award ceremony itself. It has received another trib-

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