The Nation Speaks: On the Poetics of Nationalist Literature<sup>1</sup>

Yasir Suleiman

in Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653102 | DOI:
The Nation Speaks: On the Poetics of Nationalist Literature1

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This chapter discusses Arab poetics of nationalist literature. Literature is important in nation building because it has the ability to function as a channel of communication through which a national consciousness, a national sentiment, a shared cultural inheritance and a shared destiny can be fashioned in a shared idiom. In the theories of nationalism, literature shares this communicative function with other semiologies of signification which, typically, include rituals and objects of symbolic representation. And for nations in the diaspora, literature is a potent force because of its ability to link the members of a refugee nation across state borders and to encode their ‘exilic’ experience in different linguistic idioms. In the West, the novel is considered the primary vehicle for delivering this nationalist function. In the Arab context, this function is allocated to poetry, which has a long and highly respected position in Arab culture and which, by virtue of its compact expression, resonant cadences and implicit orality, is better suited than the novel to deliver an immediate and memorable impact on audiences, through shared public performances.

Keywords: literature; nationalism; poetry; Arab poetics; nationalist literature

Chapter.  11882 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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