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Modern Arabic Literature

Paul Starkey

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This book provides a succinct introduction to modern Arabic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Designed primarily as an introductory textbook for English-speaking undergraduates, it will also be of interest to a more general readership interested in the contemporary Middle East or in comparative and modern literature. The work attempts to situate the development of modern Arabic literature in the context of the medieval Arabic literary tradition as well as the new literary forms derived from the West, exploring the interaction between social, political and cultural change in the Middle East and the development of a modern Arabic literary tradition. Poetry, prose writing and the theatre are discussed in separate chapters. The work overall aims to give a balanced account of the subject, reflecting the different pace of literary development in diverse parts of the Arab world, including North Africa.

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1. The background
2. The Revival
3. Poetry: The neo-classicists
4. Poetry: The Romantics
5. Poetry: The Modernists
6. Prose Literature: Early Developments
7. Prose Literature: The Period of Maturity
8. Prose Literature: The Sixties Generation and Beyond
9. Drama: Early Experiments
10. Drama: The Period of Maturity
11. Conclusion.

About the Author

Paul Starkey was, until his retirement in 2012, Professor of Arabic and Head of the Arabic Department at Durham University, UK, and Co-Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World. He is currently Vice-President of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Paul Starkey has published widely in the field of modern Arabic literature, as well as on Middle Eastern travel literature; he was co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature (1998) and author of Modern Arabic Literature (EUP, 2006). He has also translated a number of novels and short stories into English, including most recently The Book of the Sultan’s Seal by the Egyptian author Youssef Rakha.


I especially appreciate the treatment of the relationship between early modern and classical literature in some detail … I also like the fact that the author gets away from the customary focus on Egyptian literature and treats 'modern Arabic literature' as a more unified phenomenon.
- Dr J. S. Meisami

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