This article focuses on the three following novels by Ǧamāl al-Ġīṭānī: al-Zaynī Barakāt (1971), Waqāʾiʿ ḥārat al-Zaʿfarānī (1976) and Ḥikāyat al-muʾassasa (1997). It aims to discuss the author’s handling of despotism and the popular revolt against it. The events in the three novels occur in different contexts: political, religious and economical. The first part of the article is a discussion of the formal aspects of the novels, namely their structure, their techniques of enunciation and other devices which show how the various themes of the novels are presented. The second part is an analysis of the portrayals of the despots and how they act, the basis on which the relation between the oppressor and the oppressed persons is built and the methods used by the despot to control the population. The third and last part is a study of the representation of the oppressed persons, their revolt against the power and the results which that revolt achieves. Finally, the conclusion of the article sheds light on the place of al-Ġīṭānī on the scene of Egyptian novel, and on the historical context in which his vision of despotism could be placed.
This article is dedicated to the Iraqi novel al-Mašṭūr : Sitt ṭarāʾiq ġayr šarʿiyya li-iǧtiyāz al-ḥudūd naḥwa Baġdād (2017) by Ḍiyāʾ Ǧbaylī. Through an illegal journey of two characters in Iraq, this book presents a new literary approach of the sectarian conflict that tears apart the country. Intertextuality with the Italian novel The Cloven Viscount (1952), by Italo Calvino, works as a connecting thread in the story. The complex Iraqi identity and the conflicts that are related to it are depicted as the result of both the country’s geographical position and its history. The first part of the article focuses on the spatial configuration in the story and the way the concept of borders is used to define the Iraqi identity. The latter is also the object of the second part that attempts to discuss the close relationship that the novel suggests between the body of the martyr and the homeland.
The City of the Dead is a large area on the periphery of Cairo where people live in house-like tombs. This study focuses on two Egyptian novels Šakāwā l-miṣrī l-faṣīḥ (1981-1985) by Yūsuf al-Qaʿīd and Madad (2014) by Maḥmūd al-Wirwārī, in which living in the cemeteries is portrayed as a paradoxical reality where life and death overlap. Limits between the two are blurred, and this creates a confusing situation where landmarks are lost and moral values are subverted. This situation echoes the characters’ personal dilemmas and the uncertain historical context in which they live. This article sheds light on the representation of life in the cemeteries and the concrete and symbolic function of this space. It also discusses this representation within the portrayal of peripheries and marginal spaces in contemporary Egyptian fiction, and explores the way the two novels—published several decades apart—use this ambivalent space to relate their respective historical realities.