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Muhsin al-Musawi Al-Musawi

Muhsin Al-Musawi

Abstract

Although a great deal of research and criticism has been done on The Thousand and One Nights, very little is done on its nonverbal narrative components. While speech and, later, writing make up the communication system between the audience and the story teller, there is much that is left for the reader to imagine in terms of non-speech acts, icons, mysterious inscription, specific dishes, paintings, and talismanic means that operate as narrative components of great nonverbal efficacy. It is the purpose of this reading to study some of these, while leaving "The City of Brass" and Sindabad tales until later. At a later stage, I also will read these as communication systems in relation to the classical Arabic theories of semiotics and rhetoric.

Muhsin Jassim Al-Musawi

Abstract

The modernist movement in Arabic literature develops its own poetics, especially pertaining to poetry, in dialogue with both the Arab literary legacy and modernity in its Western manifestations. In the face of many challenges after the Second World War, poets felt the need for a poetics of regeneration, a mythical method that could superimpose a totalizing vision on a seemingly dying land and civilization. T. S. Eliot's writings on tradition and his use of myth drew attention to pre-Islamic mythology, especially in its Babylonian and Phoenician manifestations. Tradition was manipulated, as well, in search of its dynamic impulse for innovation and change. Both al-Ma'arrī and al-Mutanabbī were re-discovered beyond their other attributes. Both foreshadow the modernist impulse for change, dissent, thought, reason and morality. Both make high claims for poetry. Although modern poets developed different commemorative strategies, recollection undergoes re-tailoring in view of each poet's commitment at a certain time. This essay discusses these strategies under four headings: Dialogization, Dedications, Exilic Space, Textual Apprenticeship.

Muhsin Jassim Al-Musawi

Muhsin Al-Musawi

Abstract

The purpose of this reading is to assess specific tales in The Thousand and One Nights in the context of the Arabic narrative tradition. While the first sections argue the marginalization of such tales in mainstream criticism, the rest concentrates on the fluctuations in taste for narrative, the reasons behind the expressed fears of the guardians of religion and morality, and the suspicions that were behind the opposition to this kind of narrative. Only two tales are chosen to demonstrate the popular components in the collection, not only because they serve to bridge the gap between an accepted narrative that was admired and collected by the literati in certain periods, but mainly because they have the principal popular properties, as usually argued in current criticism of popular culture.

Muhsin al-Musawi

Muhsin al-Musawi

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to study Abd al-Hakīm Qāsim’s Ayyām al-insān al-sabah (1969; The Seven Days of Man) and its sequel al-Mahdī (1977) as post-Nahdah self-narratives that leave behind the complex encounter with the West and bypass thereby the modernity binary of a backward tradition versus the offers of a European civilization. The schizophrenic narratives of encounter have confined Arabic narrative and limited its potential to engage individual experience in a dynamic social life. The post-Nahdah narrative interrogates other facts on the ground that relate to the nation-state, selfhood, family, communal life and religion. Abd al-Hakīm Qāsim’s Ayyām al-insān al-sabah is a pioneering text in this respect and deserves full attention in order to understand the radical shift in Arabic literature after 1967. Its mode of self-narration is not subservient to the canonical autobiography of Tāhā Husayn, and its unfolding takes place among contending powers where space implicates characters in action and enables human agency to have full play beyond the Nahdah legacy of cultural dependency.

The Postcolonial Arabic Novel

Debating Ambivalence

Series:

Muhsin Al-Musawi

This is the first study of its kind to tackle the postcolonial in Arabic fiction. In ten chapters, a lengthy preface and an extensive bibliography, the author discusses and questions a large number of novels that demonstrate cultural diversity and richness in the Arab World. Using current methodologies and discourse analysis, the author highlights engagements with postcolonial issues that relate to identity formation, the modern nation-state, individualism, nationalism, gender and class demarcations, and micro-politics. With this intention, the book locates Arabic narrative in the mainstream of world literature, and establishes the modern Arabic novel in the contemporary literary critical world of postcolonial studies. The author's lucid style and thorough knowledge of the field should recommend the book to students and scholars alike, as it comes in time to meet the needs of the academy for solid writing on Islam and the Arabs.