حول الالتزام السياسي والكتابة النسائية / On Political Commitment and Feminist Writing



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الزيات, لطيفة; Al-Zayat, Latifa; رمضان, سمية; Ramadan, Sumaya; مرعي, فريدة; Mar'i, Faridah; الحريري, ابراهيم; al-Hariri, Ibrahim; غزول, فريال; Ghazoul, Ferial

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Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[Latifa Al-Zayat is one of the most distinguished women in Egypt and the Arab world. She is presently Professor of Literary Criticism in the Department of English at the Women's College, Ain Shams University in Cairo. She chairs the Committee for the Defense of National Culture which publishes Al-Muwajaha (Confrontation). A political activist and a radical socialist, Latifa Al-Zayat has been involved in the struggle for national independence and the rights of the oppressed since the forties when she was an undergraduate. She has become a symbol of integrity and commitment to the Arab masses. Latifa Al-Zayat has published influential works in the field of critical theory and literary criticism. Her works, in Arabic and English, deal with American and English Literature as well as Egyptian narratives and drama. Her writings on the image of women in Arabic novels and on the aesthetics of Naguib Mahfouz are seminal. She has also written cultural and political essays. Latifa Al-Zayat is, in addition, a prominent novelist. Her novel Al-Bab al-maftuh (The Open Door), 1960, has been a great success and was reprinted and made into a film. Her more recent Al-Shaykhukha wa qissas ukhra (Old Age and Other Stories), 1986, was considered a literary event. Latifa Al-Zayat has graciously granted Alif an interview. Her interlocutors are: Somaya Ramadan, professor of Irish Literature and a specialist on feminist writing; Radwa Ashour, novelist and professor of English Literature; Farida Marei, creative writer and critic of literature and film; Ibrahim Al-Hariri, novelist and journalist; and Ferial Ghazoul, editor of Alif and professor of English and Comparative Literature. The interview was carried out in writing in the Fall of 1989. The following are excerpts from Latifa AL-Zayat's responses: * I have been exposed in my life, like any other woman, to different kinds of subjugations. The most dangerous, I am sure, is the one exercised by women on themselves. I managed to overcome subjugations, time and again.... What came to my rescue is a view of the self which took form in the beginning of my awareness and deepened in my undergraduate years.. This view of the self liberated me from the prison-house of the self and it continues to do so. It allows me to be an active and responsible human being, open to my country and its people and preoccupied with their concerns. * There is a great deal which we can learn from the extreme rightwing critics and one of them is T. S. Eliot, as long as we appropriate what we learn to our social orientation. * In the novel (The Open Door), I aimed at crystallizing three levels of significance. The first one deals with the development of the female protagonist, and is related to the second which deals with developments in Egypt at that period. As for the third level, it incorporates a commentary on the values of the middle class and its practices and how they prevent the country from a take off. * As an Egyptian and Arab citizen I feel deeply the horrors of dependency. I struggle the best I can, and the fronts of the struggle against dependency are practically unlimited... I hold tightly... to the dream of Socialism even if a proper application of it has not taken place. I cherish the thought of the Palestinian Intifada, the Lebanese resistance to Israel, the Liberation movements in South Africa and Latin America -- which ignite the free will of man in the face of the dominant current. A better future for humanity reasserts itself..]

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