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Literature and Nation in the Middle East$
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Yasir Suleiman and Ibrahim Muhawi

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748620739

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620739.001.0001

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The Nation Speaks: On the Poetics of Nationalist Literature1

The Nation Speaks: On the Poetics of Nationalist Literature1

(p.208) 11 The Nation Speaks: On the Poetics of Nationalist Literature1
Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Yasir Suleiman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses Arab poetics of nationalist literature. Literature is important in nation building because it has the ability to function as a channel of communication through which a national consciousness, a national sentiment, a shared cultural inheritance and a shared destiny can be fashioned in a shared idiom. In the theories of nationalism, literature shares this communicative function with other semiologies of signification which, typically, include rituals and objects of symbolic representation. And for nations in the diaspora, literature is a potent force because of its ability to link the members of a refugee nation across state borders and to encode their ‘exilic’ experience in different linguistic idioms. In the West, the novel is considered the primary vehicle for delivering this nationalist function. In the Arab context, this function is allocated to poetry, which has a long and highly respected position in Arab culture and which, by virtue of its compact expression, resonant cadences and implicit orality, is better suited than the novel to deliver an immediate and memorable impact on audiences, through shared public performances.

Keywords:   literature, nationalism, poetry, Arab poetics, nationalist literature

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