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Religion in the Egyptian Novel$
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Christina Phillips

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417068

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417068.001.0001

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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: 28 September 2021

Introduction: Religion and the Novel

Introduction: Religion and the Novel

(p.3) I Introduction: Religion and the Novel
(p.iii) Religion in the Egyptian Novel

Christina Phillips

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter introduces the topic of religion and literature, theorises the novel as a secular genre, and develops a concept of religion as the other in the Arabic novel. It begins with a discussion of the relationship between religion and literature, identifying imagination, metaphorical language and mythos as areas of overlap, before turning to the question of religion and the Arabic novel as a modern form which eschews faith and dogma but is nevertheless packed with religious themes, images, characters, language and intertextuality. This is accounted for by the form’s secularism, which is theorised in terms of Charles Taylor’s conditions of belief. Literary secularism is not static and stable however, thus religion emerges as the other in the Egyptian novel, with all the ambivalence which alterity characteristically entails. This religious other calls into question postcolonial studies’ over-valorisation of the East/West binary insofar as it has obscured the critical role of religion in Arab postcolonial literature and identity.

Keywords:   Secularism, the other, Arabic novel, Egypt, religion and literature, Arab postcolonial identity, Charles Taylor

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