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Howarth, James (2005) Neo-Sufism in Modern Arabic Poetry, 1960-2005: A Study in the Poetry of 'Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati, Salah 'Abd al-Sabur and Adonis. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis brings a contemporary critical approach to the use of Sufism in Arabic poetry after 1960, focusing on three major poets, 'Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati, Salah 'Abd al-Sabur and Adonis. Using appropriate theoretical approaches, the objective is to make a significant contribution to the development of a post-Orientalist, interdisciplinary understanding of the Middle East's cultural and psychological environment. It investigates the proposition that these poets have attempted to synthesize radical social and political beliefs with aspects of their spiritual and cultural heritage in order to create a visionary new conception not only of Arabic poetry but Arab civilization as a whole. The cultural institution of poetry - 'register of the Arabs' - has a unique spiritual and revolutionary power in a historically aniconic society in which it has been for centuries the dominant artform, enabling sensitive insight into the modern Arab existence. On the basis of an initial investigation of the artistic, philosophical and socio-political aspects of Sufism, as well its relation to modern European thought, the thesis examines how committed modernist Arab poetry shifted towards a 'neo-Sufi' paradigm, reviving Sufi concepts, principles and historical figures. As such, the project focuses on the extrinsic ramifications of these poets' neo-Sufi experiences, analysing what role Sufi ideas play in modern Arabic thought within the sphere of autocratic state ideologies and local and regional political struggles. Consequently, it considers how neo-Sufism relates to the development of a uniquely Arab postmodern condition, and how the relationship between Arabic poetry and political commitment evolved since 1960. The thesis contemplates the Arab poet both as individual and as social being, in a world where profound senses of identity confront the need for change. By investigating the constantly evolving interaction between creative, individualistic instincts and external social reality in the contexts of Arab nationalism, the Palestine question, Communism, political Islam, Western hegemony and globalisation, it aims to illuminate the predicament of the later 20th century Arab intellectual on specific and universal levels.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:27

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