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Out of Time: Jabrā Ibrāhīm Jabrā and the Politics of Palestinian Exile

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This article analyses Jabrā Ibrāhīm Jabrā’s representations of Palestinian exile by focusing on his 1970 novel, al-Safīnah (The Ship, 1985). Critics have argued over whether Jabrā adequately connects his characters to “reality” on land. By attending to the Palestinian character Wadīʿ’s narrative in the novel, I argue that it is through this retreat from “reality,” or from realistic representations of Wadīʿ’s life in Palestine, that the novel shapes Palestinian exile as a dislocation in both time and space. Dream-like memories and utopic fantasies of return mirror the structure of that other fantasy, of returning in historico-political time. Thus the novel signals the time-space of Palestinian exile as both a separation from the historical land of Palestine, and an exile in history: an alienation not only from Palestine as a geographical area, but also from Palestine before the catastrophe of the Nakbah.

Affiliations: 1: Vanier College


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