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Nineteenth-Century US Literature in Middle Eastern Languages$
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Jeffrey Einboden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645640

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645640.001.0001

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American ‘Song’ of Iraqi Exile: Whitman and Saadi Youssef

American ‘Song’ of Iraqi Exile: Whitman and Saadi Youssef

(p.156) Chapter 6 American ‘Song’ of Iraqi Exile: Whitman and Saadi Youssef
Nineteenth-Century US Literature in Middle Eastern Languages

Jeffrey Einboden

Edinburgh University Press

Concluding the study is the book’s second treatment of Whitman in Middle Eastern language, reading Leaves of Grass as translated by a pioneer of modern Arabic poetry, Saadi Youssef. Published amid successive exiles from Iraq, Chapter 6 explores Youssef’s 1976 Awrāq al-‘Ushb, situating this selected Leaves rendition within a broader genealogy of Arabic appeal, reaching to Whitman as a precedent for aesthetic and political liberation. Mirroring the translator’s own physical displacements, Whitman’s verse is displaced from its American specificity within Youssef’s Awrāq, voicing an exilic critique of homelands and home cultures through his refashioned Arabic. Concluding with consideration of Leaves‘ Arabic afterlives in more recent poetry, the study itself ends with a circular inversion, discovering Whitman speaking Arabic in urban America with the 2008 appearance of Youssef’s New York Qaṣīdas.

Keywords:   Walt Whitman, Saadi Youssef, Leaves of Grass, Arabic

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