اللغة والهوية في متسولة عند باب العمود لياسمين زهران / Language and Identity in Yasmine Zahran's A Beggar at Damascus Gate



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عبد الناصر, تحية; Abdel Nasser, Tahia

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[The emergence of literatures in foreign languages by Arab writers, during and after the colonial period, provided a means of exploring colonial and postcolonial issues in innovative literary forms that reflected cultural and political relationships on the level of the text. Yasmine Zahran's A Beggar at Damascus Gate (1995) provides a case of Arab literature in English which revolves around the Palestinian experience. In the novel, Zahran constructs the identity of a Palestinian exile explored through the "bilingualism" of the text which incorporates the nuances of Arabic, the richness of Sufi poetry and Palestinian folk songs reformulated into English. Her relationship with an Englishman is reflected on the level of the text where a Palestinian woman's autobiographical and creative writing in Arabic and an Englishman's journal in English intersect with each other. A narrator reconstructs from these different forms of writing in different languages, which he found in a guest-house closet, a literary text that centres on Rayya, the Palestinian woman whose identity is the subject of speculation by the Englishman and the narrator. The interplay of languages within the text and the use of polyphony on the level of narration help to construct Rayya's hybrid identity and the struggle to survive the dispossession. A Beggar at Damascus Gate is compared in this article to Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North in terms of the fundamental issue that runs in both, and to Zahran's Arabic novel, The First Melody (1991) which conjures village life in Palestine before occupation.]

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