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Studying Modern Arabic LiteratureMustafa Badawi, Scholar and Critic$
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Roger Allen and Robin Ostle

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748696628

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696628.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Strange Incidents from History: Youssef Rakha and his Sultan’s Seal

Strange Incidents from History: Youssef Rakha and his Sultan’s Seal

(p.159) 10 Strange Incidents from History: Youssef Rakha and his Sultan’s Seal
Studying Modern Arabic Literature

Paul Starkey

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Youssef Rakha's novel Kitab al-tughra (Book of the Sultan's Seal), set in the spring of 2007 and completed at the start of 2010. It begins with a discussion of Rakha's attempt to produce a contemporary equivalent of the ‘middle Arabic’ used by noted Cairo historians al-Jabarti and Ibn Iyas. It then considers the tension between heritage and modernity in Book of the Sultan's Seal and the novel's main theme: the contemporary Arab/Muslim's (and in particular, the Egyptian/Muslim's) search for a sense of identity. It also examines the contrast between the hedonistic atmosphere of Beirut and the creeping Islamisation of Cairo in the book, as well as the inherent tension between the traditional values of Muslim society and the West.

Keywords:   middle Arabic, Youssef Rakha, Kitab al-tughra, Book of the Sultan's Seal, heritage, modernity, identity, Islamisation, Cairo, Muslim society

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