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Safar The Early History of Time Travel Literature: Al-Muwayliḥī's Ḥadith 'Isa B. Hishām and Its Antecedents

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Chapter Summary

Modern Arab culture stands in a much-debated relationship with the trappings of modernity. It is therefore not surprising that modern Arabic literature should boast a relatively large number of time-travel stories. This chapter offers a preview based on one line of inquiry: the antecedents of Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥī’s (1858-1930) Ḥadīth ʿῙsā b. Hishām, the first time-travel story in Arabic. Al-Muwayliḥī’s Ḥadīth was first published in serial form beginning in 1898 under the title Fatra min al-zaman. The chapter also addresses the broader question of shared themes, particularly those that recur in stories about time travel and other kinds of displacement. One such theme is that of the specter. Time-travel stories are full of spectral creatures, no doubt because such creatures provided a familiar way of representing the novel idea of displacement in time.

Keywords: Ḥadīth ʿῙsā b. Hishām; Fatra min al-zaman; modern Arab culture; modern Arabic literature; Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥī; time-travel stories



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