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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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Introduction Literature and Nation in the Middle East: An Overview

Introduction Literature and Nation in the Middle East: An Overview

(p.1) Introduction Literature and Nation in the Middle East: An Overview
Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Yasir Suleiman

Edinburgh University Press

This book examines the role literature played in constructing, articulating or challenging interpretations of national identities in the Middle East, and most of its chapters are hence devoted to Arabic literature. The remaining chapters look into Hebrew literature, Arabic literature in translation and Arab literature in its trans-national mode as expressed in a language other than Arabic, in this case English. In terms of genre, the book covers poetry and the novel in their capacity as the prime examples of high culture, as well as oral or ‘folk literature’ in the modern period as an expression of the localisation of the lived socio-political experience of a national group. In terms of provenance, some chapters deal with the literary expression of Palestinian nationalism as the enunciation of a ‘stateless’ or ‘refugee’ nation, while others cover the construction of national identity in Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Israel. These analyses provide an array of geographies and sociopolitical contexts that can add to the better understanding of the interaction between literature and the nation in the Middle East. Drama is not dealt with in the book because of its marginal position in the national cultures of the region. Furthermore, the book does not cover the short story or North Africa due to the limitations of space.

Keywords:   national identities, Middle East, Arabic literature, Hebrew literature, Palestinian nationalism, folk literature, poetry, novel

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