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Idrees, Najma Abdullah (1987) The concept of death and its development in modern Arabic poetry. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028537

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Abstract

This thesis examines the treatment of the concept of death in modern Arabic poetry, and the development of this concept from the turn of the twentieth century up to the seventies. This development is seen as having gone through three major and distinctive stages. The first stage is reflected in the neo-classical elegy. The works of the neo-classicist poets (from the beginning of the century up to the mid-twenties) are generally viewed by critics as an imitation, or at least an attempt at emulating the works of the major classical and medieval poets. The elegy, practically the only poetic composition at this time in which the concept of death was treated, is no exception to this rule. It did not treat of death as an existential concept, but simply lamented the deaths of particular individuals, and invariably in laudatory terms. The treatment of death in this period is viewed as a form of occasional poetry. The second stage is identified with the romantic movement in Arabic poetry (from the mid-twenties to the late forties). The main influences which are seen as having affected the outlook on death in this period are the works of the great Muslim Sufis, which were gradually becoming available to the general reader. Western romantic poetry, which in the thirties of this century started to be widely read and translated in the Arab world, and some Eastern theosophical doctrines, like the belief in reincarnation, espoused by some prominent and influential Arab authors such as Gibran and Naimy. As the emphasis on the goodness of nature and the coincidence of man with its spirit was a characteristic feature of romantic poetry, both life and death are viewed in this period as two vital elements which, being in harmony with the cycles of nature, constantly maintain the continuity of existence. The third stage is identified with developments in the period between the fifties and the seventies. The Tammuziyyun poets, the avant-garde poets of the period seem unanimously to have utilized in various forms one or other of the ancient myths of death and resurrection. The symbols of this ancient mythology were used to express deep anxieties and fears about the decline of Arab civilization under dire political and social strains, and the hope that the Arab nation would go through a rebirth or a great revival. This hope in particular seemed to find its best expression in the ancient myths which stressed the inevitability of a resurrection after death. Finally the concept of death is examined in Palestinian resistance poetry which is seen as part and parcel of the third stage, but which, because of the special circumstances in which the Palestinians lived and wrote, is treated in a separate chapter on its own.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028537
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28537

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