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The Romantic Discourse of Ameen Rihani and Percy Shelley

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Abstract Most contemporary studies of Rihani’s The Book of Khalid draw attention to its intertextuality and American Transcendentalism and/or ‘‘the voice of Carlyle.’’ This article intends to interrogate the silent presence of a different intertextuality by invoking English Romanticism as it emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century. Although Rihani’s Khalid does not seem to be aware of the poet and essayist Percy Shelley, it is this absence that makes him all the more relevant. Such an undertaking is not an exercise in compiling a list of Rihani’s sources, but rather a new reading of the diversity and plurality of a particular paradigmatic literary genre that animated a new generation of Arab authors and intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century. It is an attempt to decipher the signatures of a literary event in its Western and Arab contexts.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Manchester


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