Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Language and Literature -- the Village Novel in Modern Egyptian Literature by Ami Elad

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Language and Literature -- the Village Novel in Modern Egyptian Literature by Ami Elad

Article excerpt

The Village Novel in Modern Egyptian Literature, by Amir Elad. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1994. 150 pages. Appends. to p. 178. Bibl. to p. 195. Index to p. 204. n.p.

This work examines a genre of considerable importance in the fictional literature of Egypt in the 20th century--the village novel. In the introduction, Elad comments on the role of the village in international fiction, and suggests stages in its development in Egyptian literature up to 1985, at which year this study ends. The first chapter examines the social, political, and economic factors that led to the increasing attention given to the village in Egyptian fiction. It summarizes the literary characteristics of this genre, gives bibliographical details of some prominent authors, discusses the extent to which their fiction represents their personal experiences, and comments upon the complications presented in these works by the discrepancies between spoken and written Arabic.

The next three chapters center on three specific texts to which Elad assigns special significance. These detailed discussions begin with Muhammad Husayn Haykal's Zaynab, proceed to 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sharqawi's al-Ard (The Land), and conclude with Muhammad Yusuf al-Qa'id's Yahduth fi Misr al-An (Its Happening in Egypt Now). Elad gives bibliographical information, outlines the plots, and analyzes form and subject matter. He concludes with a six-page summary of the main points he has made. Eight appendices offer synopses and comments on a variety of other novels Elad considers significant, along with lists that categorize works by the geographical locales in which they are set. Elad also provides a list of the works in this genre available in English translation. …

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