Perennial Themes in Modern Arabic Literature

  • M. M. Badawi
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series (STANTS)


When I was asked to deliver the seventeenth George Antonius Lecture I debated with myself as to what I should talk about. Most of the lecturers in this series have dealt with historical, political or general cultural subjects. The two distinguished non-historian speakers from my country of origin, one of whom, alas, is no longer with us, and whose standard of eloquence I cannot hope to emulate, chose topics related to Egypt: the late Professor Magdi Wahba spoke brilliantly about his ‘Cairo Memories’, while Professor Mahmoud Manzalaoui gave a fully detailed and lively account of the treatment of modern Egypt in English fiction. As a literary person myself it was natural for me to want to choose a literary theme, even though literature does not feature prominently in the series. However, my decision to talk about modern Arabic literature in particular may require a word of explanation.


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  1. 1.
    George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, London, 1938.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p. 55.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Robin Ostle, ed., Modern Literature in the Near and Middle East, 1850–1970, London, 1991.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    In his essay ‘The “New African” After Cultural Encounters’ (1967). See Wole Soyinka, Art, Dialogue and Outrage: Essays in Literature and Culture, Ibadan, 1988, pp. xxiii and 189.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Ngugiwa Thiong’O, Decolonizing the Mind, London, 1986, p. 9.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Ibid., p. 26.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    See M. M. Badawi, A Critical Introduction to Modern Arabic Poetry, Cambridge, 1975, p. 228 and Modern Arabic Literature and the West, London, 1985, pp. 113–15.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Abderrahmane Arab, Politics and the Novel in Africa, Algiers, 1982, p. 193.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    D. P. Gallagher, Modern Latin American Literature, Oxford, 1973, p. 90.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Ibid., p. 187.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    For a somewhat more detailed treatment see M. M. Badawi, Early Arabic Drama, Cambridge, 1988, pp. 38–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 16.
    See Ali B. Jad, Form and Technique in the Egyptian Novel, 1912–1971, London, 1983, p. 51.Google Scholar
  13. 17.
    For a fuller treatment see M. M. Badawi, Modern Arabic Drama in Egypt, Cambridge, 1987, pp. 95–8.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    See the critical analysis of this novel in Roger Allen, The Arabic Novel, an Historical and Critical Introduction, Manchester, 1982, pp. 131–8, as well as Mona Takieddine Amyuni, ed., Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North: a Casebook, Beirut, 1985.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North, tr. Denys Johnson-Davies, London, 1976, p. 73.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    See Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry, Leiden, 1977, Vol. II, pp. 400–401 and M. M. Badawi, A Short History of Modern Arabic Literature, Oxford, 1993, p. 51.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    See Jurj Tarabishi, Sharq wa-Gharb Rujula wa-Unutha, Beirut, 1977, p. 15.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • M. M. Badawi

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