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Maḥmūd Darwīsh’s Athar al-farāshah: The Poetics of Proximity

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This study of Maḥmūd Darwīsh’s Athar al-farāshah (The Butterfly Effect) (2008)—published in translation as A River Dies of Thirst (2009)—investigates the nuances of the word athar in Darwīsh’s text by focusing on its dual meanings in Arabic as “effect” and “trace.” The semiotic aspects of the butterfly prove to be an important signifier for Darwīsh, articulating a concept of proximity to the other as an overarching ethical and aesthetic aim of Darwīsh’s poetry. The essay ends on the concept of dwelling in the world as an embodiment of both athar (trace/effect) as well as proximity. The argument is supported by reference to Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Heidegger, and in particular the notion of “dwelling,” which helps to further elucidate the philosophical stakes of Darwīsh’s “butterfly effect.”

Affiliations: 1: Yarmouk


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