هارون وبحر القصص : " ما فائدة القصص التي لا تتسم حتى بالصدق؟ " / Haroun and the Sea of Stories



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عبد الوهاب, إسمت; Abd el Wahab, Esmat

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[In the article, devoted to the novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) Salman Rushdie's fiction is discussed, on the one hand, in terms of his political stance generally, and, on the other, in terms of more specific metafictional, satiric and other literary devices that he uses to comment on art, history, religion and politics. Haroun is to a great extent an allegory of Rushdie's personal situation, that of a writer silenced by forces which he identifies with the enemies of stories and of free imagination. Also, under the guise of a narrative for children, Rushdie puts forward a defense of the novel. It debates the freedom of expression and the liberty of artistic creativity. A central point illustrated in the novel is that of creativity. In Haroun reality is undefined until it is shaped by artistic imagination. Rashid loses his creative imagination expressed in the art of story-telling because the validity of such an art has been questioned. Haroun tries to restore his father's lost powers. Through an unconscious act of faith to save his father's gift, Haroun inadvertently steps into the fictions spun by his father: Haroun seeks the help of the water genie, Iff, who takes him on the back of the bird Butt to the earth's second moon, Kahani, which literally means story. On Kahani Haroun discovers that there are two cities at war with each other. The two cities are fighting for control over the Ocean of Stories. The Chup city, the city of Silence, headed by Khattam-Shud, wants to poison the Ocean of Stories, while the Gup city, the city of free speech, headed by general Kitab, wants to save it. At the end of the story Haroun manages to save the forces of Language from the forces of Silence, he also succeeds in having his father's supply of story-water restored. The article analyzes the intertextual references, including the allusions to the Arabian Nights, Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Attar's The Conference of the Birds. Jokes and puns and misused folk sayings similarly contribute to the richness and diversity of the novel. The grotesque is also used to highlight the absurdities of totalitarian systems and helps to bring down the serious and the mighty. The multitude of effects in Haroun is very much like the streams in the sea of stories: strange currents criss-crossing in intricate patterns. The novel with its unsettled, shifting and changing condition is, like the sea, in constant flux with waves of different voices and traditions clashing and merging in a never ending process of regeneration.]

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