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Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel

Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition

Wen-chin Ouyang

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Considers the Arabic novel within the triangle of the nation-state, modernity and tradition

Wen-Chin Ouyang explores the development of the Arabic novel, especially the ways in it engages with aesthetics, ethics and politics in a cross-cultural context and from a transnational perspective.

Taking love and desire as the central tropes , the story of the Arabic novel is presented as a series of failed, illegitimate love affairs, all tainted by its suspicion of the legitimacy of the nation, modernity and tradition and, above all, by its misgiving about its own propriety.

  • Authors studied include Naguib Mahfouz; Ghassan Kanafani; Ibrahim Nasrallah; Emil Habiby; Jamal al-Ghitani; Ali Mubarak, Muhammad al-Muwaylihi, Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, Khalil Hawi and Salah 'Abd al-Sabur
  • Works studied include Arabian Nights and Maqamat
  • Addresses issues such as nation & nationalism, Arabic poetics of love, modernity & modernisation; the politics of desire, the poetics of space, women & cartography of nation, identity and intertexutality


Prologue: Presenting the Past: the Arabic Novel and Dialectics of Modernisation
Part I: Mapping the Nation
1: Nation-State
2: Nation-Without-State
Part II: Love
3. Legitimacy of the Nation
4. Impropriety of the State
Part III: Desire
5. Decolonisation
6. Modernisation
Afterword: Politics of the Past

About the Author

Wen-chin Ouyang is a Reader in Arabic Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She was born in Taiwan, raised in Libya and educated in the United States. She is the author of Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture (1997) and numerous articles on the Arabic novel, The 1001 Nights, and classical Arabic prose writing. She co-edited New Perspectives on the Arabian Nights: Ideological Variations and Narrative Horizons (2005), Companion to Magical Realism (2005), and The Novelization of Islamic Literatures, Comparative Critical Studies 4: 3 (2007).