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Freedom and Dissidence in the Arabic Prison Novels of 'Abd al-Ramān Munīf

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image of Die Welt des Islams

'Abd al-Rahmān Munīf 's novels East of the Mediterranean and Here and Now or East of the Mediterranean Revisited belong to the genre of prison literature, which describes the life and the suffering of prisoners. The suffering of the heroes in these novels, who are political prisoners, stems less from their physical torment than from the denial of freedom, which is a central theme in Munīf 's works. These protagonists' political activity is anchored in their desire to establish a state founded upon liberty, justice and honesty. They are authentic heroes, whose authenticity is manifest in their ceaseless struggle to preserve their identity and to become fully aware of the meaning of their existence as human beings, as well as in their willingness to take responsibility, to risk themselves and even to sacrifice their lives for their cause of attaining liberty, and in their complete dedication to this type of existence, which reflects an inner strength and a readiness to confront fate. The novels address the issue of freedom from both the existential perspective and the moral-political one. The dictatorial regime creates an absurd reality whereby the individual who struggles for freedom is sent to jail, where he experiences a yearning for both personal and collective freedom.

Affiliations: 1: Ramat Gan


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