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First Steps in Writing Arabic Narrative Fiction: The Case of Hadīqat al-Akhbār

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This study tracks the significant literary activity of the Beirut newspaper Hadīqat al-Akhbār (1858-1911) in its first ten years. A textual examination of the newspaper reveals that Khalīl al-Khūrī (1836-1907), a central figure of the nahda and the owner of Hadīqat al-Akhbār, believed that an adoption of a new Western literary genre into the traditional Arabic literary tradition would provide the Arab culture with tools for reviving the Arabic language and create new styles of expression. The textual analysis of numerous narrative fictions that were published in the newspaper demonstrates two significant matters: first, Hadīqat al-Akhbār was the first Arabic newspaper to publish translations from Western narrative fiction, especially from the French Romance stories. Secondly, it will be shown how Khalīl al-Khūrī constructed a fetal model of Arabic narrative fiction by publishing a fictional narrative of his own, Wayy, idhan lastu bi-ifranjī (Alas, I'm not a foreigner), in 1859-1861. The literary activity in Hadīqat al-Akhbār, as the following study illustrates, played a substantial role in changing the aesthetic literary taste, and paved the way for the birth of an authentic Arabic narrative fiction.

Affiliations: 1: Haifa


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