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Modern Arabic Literature

A Theoretical Framework

Reuven Snir

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Outlines a theoretical operative framework for the study of modern Arabic literature

The study of Arabic literature is blossoming. This book provides a comprehensive theoretical framework to help research this highly prolific and diverse production of contemporary literary texts. Based on the achievements of historical poetics, in particular those of Russian formalism and its theoretical legacy, this framework offers flexible, transparent, and unbiased tools to understand the relevant contexts within the literary system. The aim is to enhance our understanding of Arabic literature, throw light on areas of literary production that traditionally have been neglected, and stimulate others to take up the fascinating challenge of mapping out and exploring them.

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Chapter One: The Modern Arabic Literary System
1. The Scope of the Research Subject
2. Popular Literature and Legitimation
3. Assumptions behind the Operative Model

Chapter Two: Literary Dynamics in Synchronic Cross-Section
1. Canonical Literature
1.a. Texts for Adults
1.b. Texts for Children
1.c. Translated Texts
2. Non-Canonical Literature
2.a. Texts for Adults
2.b. Texts for Children
2.c. Translated Texts
3. Internal and External Interrelationships

Chapter Three: Outlines of Diachronic Intersystemic Development
1. Literature / Religion
2. Literature / Territory
3. Literature / Language
4. Literature / State Nationalism

Chapter Four: Literary Dynamics in Generic and Diachronic Cross-Section
1. Periodization
2. Classical vis-à-vis Modern Literature
3. The Development of the Genres
3.a. Poetry
3.b. Fiction
3.c. Theater
4. Generic Interrelationships


About the Author

Reuven Snir is Professor of Arabic Literature and Dean of Humanities at the University of Haifa. He is author of ten books, the most recent of which include Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity? (2015) and Baghdad: The City in Verse (2013). He is also Associate Editor of al-Karmil: Studies in Arabic Language and Literature.


‘Reuven Snir provides his readers with a wealth of theoretical and applied information that takes in the entire modern tradition of Arabic literary creativity. It is an amazing achievement, well-arranged and comprehensively documented . . . The study demonstrates an enviable knowledge of the relevant theoretical and critical literature in both Western and Arab-world sources . . . I know of no work currently available that aspires to take on a subject this broad, and that does so with such conspicuous success and insight.’
- Roger Allen, Professor Emeritus of Arabic and Comparative Literature, the University of Pennsylvania

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