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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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Irony and the Poetics of Palestinian Exile

Irony and the Poetics of Palestinian Exile

(p.31) 2 Irony and the Poetics of Palestinian Exile
Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Ibrahim Muhawi

Edinburgh University Press

Palestine exists in exile as a signifier whose signified does not match its shape or magnitude. To a large extent, it exists in the dream of signification projected on it by its members, because the historical process that would create a correspondence between signifier and signified seems to be endlessly postponed. As will be seen in this chapter, a homeland is neither this nor that; not the negation of this or that; and ultimately, not the negation of that negation. The chapter focuses on Palestine, which, in 1948, was subjected to the rule of Israel. This act of negation was referred to by Palestinians as the nakba, and resulted in their fragmentation, dispersal and exile. Whether or not the negation of Palestine will amount to something historically positive remains to be seen, but it does point to a heightened sense of irony in Palestinian literature. In moving away from the purely semantic notion of an opposite meaning to that of an absent one, irony construes antiphrasis in the widest possible sense as a condition of existential contradiction. This connection between irony and the Palestinian condition is the most concise expression of a Palestinian poetics of exile. The chapter focuses on the irony and poetics of Palestinian exile, and analyses the irony of three Palestinian writers: Samih al-Qasim, Nasri Hajjaj and Imil Habibi.

Keywords:   Palestine, exile, nakba, negation of Palestine, Palestinian literature, irony, poetics of exile, Samih al-Qasim, Nasri Hajjaj, Imil Habibi

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