جدلية التناص / Intertextual Dialectics



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الغيطاني, جمال; Al-Ghitany, Gamal

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[Gamal al-Ghitany born in 1945 in Upper Egypt, is a prolific and brilliant novelist. He is known for his creative use of intertextuality before the term was coined. In his responses to questions by Alif, al-Ghitany reveals episodes from his personal experience with texts as well as elements of his poetic vision which throw a new light on the phenomenon of intertextuality. The following is a translation of fragments from al-Ghitany's spontaneous and moving discourse. • I can easily remember the first book I read.. It was a translation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.. I still recall entire lines from it. • My reading developed spontaneously into two directions: translated world classics on one hand, and Arabic classics on the other. • At the age of fifteen I became fascinated by the novels of Najib Mahfuz whose titles were drawn from my Cairene neighborhoods. • One of the works that influenced me at a young age was Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I remember borrowing the Arabic translation by Mustafa Safwan from Dar Al-Kutub. I could not afford a copy at the price of L. E. 1.50. So I copied it in toto. That's why I can still recall entire pages from the book. • I read, furthermore, philosophical, political and historical works. I found Pharaonic history very distant, but Islamic history and especially the Age of the Mamelukes is still alive. I used to live in an area where the names of the streets and quarters continue to carry those of medieval times.. My interest revolves around the transformations of a particular place. After the defeat of the 1967 war, I rediscovered Ibn Ayas who lived in a comparable period in which the Ottomans defeated the Egyptian army. This historian expressed patriotic sentiments and genuine grief comparable to what I felt in the black days of 1967. • I was able to go beyond the hegemony of the classical Novel and the Nouveau Roman.. I can say now that I am oriented towards new modes of expression inspired by Arabic heritage. • I don't work in a vacuum. I work with models drawn from Arabic narration latent in poetry, the Sufi tradition, historical texts or folk life. • I try to learn from the conventions of the Novel, not by imitating them or abiding by them, but by going beyond them, via my own tradition and experience. • For me the subject matter defines the form. In my Book of Epiphanies, the subject is death, time and amnesia; that's why I veered towards the Sufi tradition.]

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