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image of Journal of Arabic Literature

The modernist movement in Arabic literature develops its own poetics, especially pertaining to poetry, in dialogue with both the Arab literary legacy and modernity in its Western manifestations. In the face of many challenges after the Second World War, poets felt the need for a poetics of regeneration, a mythical method that could superimpose a totalizing vision on a seemingly dying land and civilization. T. S. Eliot's writings on tradition and his use of myth drew attention to pre-Islamic mythology, especially in its Babylonian and Phoenician manifestations. Tradition was manipulated, as well, in search of its dynamic impulse for innovation and change. Both al-Ma'arrī and al-Mutanabbī were re-discovered beyond their other attributes. Both foreshadow the modernist impulse for change, dissent, thought, reason and morality. Both make high claims for poetry. Although modern poets developed different commemorative strategies, recollection undergoes re-tailoring in view of each poet's commitment at a certain time. This essay discusses these strategies under four headings: Dialogization, Dedications, Exilic Space, Textual Apprenticeship.


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