ملامح السيرة الشعبية الأفريقية والعربية والفرنسية / African, Arabian and French Folk Epics



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عثمان, جوزين جودت; Osman, Gusine Gawadat

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This comparative study presents influential epics in three traditions revolving around the following heroic figures: Sundiata of old Mali and West Africa, 'Antara of pre-Islamic Arabia, and Roland of Medieval France. After giving a brief summary of each epic and the role of rhapsodists (griot, rawi, troubadour) in its development, the author of the article shows how the epics' narration served ideological purposes related to the historical period in which they were formulated or revived. Historical facts were changed in Chanson de Roland, replacing the Basques by the Saracens, to fuel enthusiasm for the Crusades. 'Antara's valor went beyond its tribal setting to become an exemplar of Arab-Islamic heroism fighting the Other. Sundiata is endowed with magical powers and seems like a superman. He was at first weak and helpless but became an extraordinary hero, thanks to the powers of the smith. The Epic of Sundiata was recounted and inscribed in this century to recall the glories of the historical ancient Kingdom of Mali and to symbolize the conviction that Africa can raise itself up-like the protagonist in the folk epic-and overcome colonialism. The movement of "Negritude" helped revive this epic and charge it with an ideological role in the struggle for independence and cultural identity. The author of the article proposes the possibility of the earliest hero, 'Antara, as a paradigm which affected the construction of the African and French hero, despite the differences in the poetics and politics of these three epics.]

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