Modern Arabic Literature (The Cambridge History of Arabic by M. M. Badawi

By M. M. Badawi

This quantity of the Cambridge background of Arabic Literature offers the 1st authoritative, entire, severe survey of artistic writing in Arabic from the mid-nineteenth century to the current day. the increase of secular schooling, printing and journalism created a brand new interpreting public, and Western principles and literary kinds, particularly the unconventional, the fast tale, and drama, grew to become influential. This publication examines the makes an attempt made by way of Arab women and men to conform the imported kinds in addition to the indigenous literary culture to fulfill the necessities of the trendy international. Quoted fabric is given in English translation and there's an intensive bibliography.

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As I have tried to show in my Critical introduction to modern Arabic poetry (1975), since the traditional Arab conception of literature shares many of the fundamental assumptions of European classicism, it was understandable that when the desire to break with their past and enter the modern world was genuinely felt, Arab writers found in European Romanticism, which was professedly anti-classical, the assumptions and ideals which seemed to them to fulfil adequately their own needs. It must be emphasized however, that the Arab Romantics, whether in the Arab East or in the Americas, were not simply imitating western postures.

Muhammad Yusuf Najm14 mentions some seventy French works of fiction translated in Egypt between 1870 and 1914. Some English and Scottish ones also (notably by Sir Walter Scott) began to appear after the British had made their presence directly felt. 15 Short stories in particular found a ready outlet in journals and even in newspapers, but many novels also first appeared in serialised form in this ephemeral medium, or as special numbers of a periodical. Understandably, literary histories make much of the masterpieces that then became known to an Arabic-reading public.

This early period witnessed the emergence of the Arabic printing press, which not only made more available the Arabic classics to which authors turned for inspiration in an attempt to assert their identity in the face of external danger, but also produced an increasing number of governmental and, more importantly for our purpose, non-govermental periodicals of a general cultural nature in which early translations, adaptations and imitations of western fiction were published. They catered for a new type of reader, the product of missionary institutions in Syria or Ismail's new, more secular type of school, a reader who was not deeply grounded in the Arabic classics but who sought entertainment in a simpler and more direct Arabic style than that provided in the traditional maqamah.

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