حوار مع إدوار الخراط يوم ٣ يناير ١٩٨٢ / Interview with Edward al-Kharrat


Sabri Hafiz



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حافظ, صَبري; Hafiz, Sabri

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[My abiding concern has always been man's loneliness and his estrangement from himself, from society, from the universe. A desolate, silent universe that was not designed to respond to man's questions, or to grant his desires. Man as an island... his isolation... But at the same time his yearning for communication. Another problem which has preoccupied me is the relation between the present, the contingent, the transient, on the one hand, and the everlasting, the necessary, the stable, on the other; between, one might say, the relative and the absolute, or between the «human» and the «divine.» During the period when I was writing my novel Rama and the Dragon, I was working with some basic concepts regarding the levels of meaning and form itself. Form as it is predominant in Arab culture and, even before, in Pharaonic culture, was mainly repetition. This form could certainly be linked to the relation between the relative and the absolute. In the case of the arabesque, we find that circular repetition is infinite by its very nature, whereas the elements that constitute it are partial, minute and finite in nature. The coupling of the finite, partial and minute and their infinite repetition allows the finite to transcend itself into the infinite and the partial to transcend itself into the whole. The episodic structure of my novels is linked to the abstract designs of the hieroglyphs, the closed cartouches that are repeated indefinitely on the walls of the ancient temples. In my early days I was greatly influenced by the Russian novelists, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, as well as by the English Romantic poets, Shelley, Keats and Byron. I read Joyce later and, although I was not immediately impressed by his novel, it has had nonetheless a kind of gradual but deep subterranean effect on me. The influence of the Arab heritage was profound and essential: The Thousand and One Nights, the classical texts from the Jahiliyya to Subh al-Aʿsha, as well as Coptic and Christian readings, these have all had a very powerful and lasting influence on me.]

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