Self-Defining Memories: When Mahmoud Met “Rita”

  • Dalya Cohen-Mor


This chapter describes the forbidden love between Darwish and Rita. Drawing on multiple sources, including the documentary film Write Down, I Am an Arab, newspaper articles, and published interviews, I provide an account of Rita’s identity, background, and career, how she and Darwish met, what brought them together, and what drove them apart. I offer an explanation as to why, following their breakup, Rita became a leitmotif in Darwish’s poetry. I highlight the power of first love as the main motive for this leitmotif, and also draw on the theory of “self-defining memories” in psychology to elucidate its function. This theory is especially pertinent here, given that Darwish’s love for Rita was unrequited and ended in heartache.


Mahmoud Darwish and Rita—forbidden love story Rita—identity, background, and career Mahmoud Darwish’s love poems—Rita leitmotif Mahmoud Darwish—unrequited love 

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dalya Cohen-Mor
    • 1
  1. 1.PotomacUSA

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