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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

Previous criticism has not adequately discussed oriental aspects of the content of Shakespearean drama. In addition to his portrayal of oriental figures (such as Cleopatra, Othello, and Shylock) and his use of literary genres and motifs that have roots in oriental tradition (such as that of the tragic romance in Romeo and Juliet, there are certain key elements in Shakespeare’s thought and outlook that can only be properly understood within the larger contribution of the oriental legacy. This legacy has clear relevance not only to the exemplary fate of the lovers in Romeo and Juliet, but also to the destinies of such major Shakespearean heroes as Hamlet and Lear. Shakespeare, the Orient, and the Critics investigates the boundaries of oriental framework within works such as Hamlet, King Lear, and The Tempest. Stylistically, at the heart of Shakespeare’s orientalism are two long-recognized features of his dramatic art: his predilection for reversing stereotypes and his sympathy and identification with the alien and the «other.» This can be most clearly seen in the love tragedies of Othello and Anthony and Cleopatra as well as the romantic comedy of The Merchant of Venice. Ultimately, the philosophic underpinning of such works is a special expression of Renaissance humanism that transcends the boundaries of class, race, and culture.
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D. H. Lawrence

A Study of Literary Fascism

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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

This book is an analysis of the social and political outlook of D.H. Lawrence as determined by the development and conflict of the social forces of his time. It discusses, specifically, the relationship between Lawrence’s ideas, as an essayist and novelist, and the ruling ideology of imperialism, reaching the conclusion that Lawrence refused to face and oppose capitalist reality. He either escaped into an imaginary, anarchic utopia, or, more frequently, «criticized» capitalist relationships from the standpoint of a fascist, militaristic division into rulers and mob, aristocrats and plebeians. Lawrence’s letters during the First World War provide the documents that reveal the genesis of his fascist outlook. The book also traces Lawrence’s attitude towards socialism throughout his literary career and concludes that anti-socialism, with varying intensity, remained an essential part of his outlook. Certain assumptions, like a contempt for man as a social being and the existential division of human beings into higher and lower creatures – into the «average» and the «exceptional» – that were basic to his outlook, are shown to be the determining factors in the writing of Lawrence’s novels. The book ends with an analysis of the historical roots of the reactionary intelligentsia and discusses Lawrence’s relationships with the various cultural and ideological trends of his time, dealing also with the different tactics used by the critics to hide the true nature of his political ideas.
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Socialist Literature

Theory and Practice

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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

Socialist Literature studies the relationship between the development of socialist literary theory and the process of cultural transformation in modern society by tracing the outline of the theory in the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, and examining its reflection in actual works of literature. This analysis is set alongside a detailed examination of the literary part of the cultural superstructure in China and in the Soviet Union. Among the major literary and theoretical works discussed are The communist Manifesto, Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, Gorky’s Mother, and the poetry of Mayakovsky.
Key issues, like the position of the writer in society, the relationship of the old and the new in literature, and the much discussed relationship between the «creator» and the «audience,» are examined and explained in a different light by regarding them as more than purely theoretical issues or abstract cultural problems and, instead, considering them as social issues that can only be settled at the level of practice.
Abdulla Al-Dabbagh amplifies the area of research by discussing some of the major opposing positions to the theory outlined and, by examining at length the portrayal of proletarian heroism, one of its key concepts, in the literary works of the same epoch. The result of the close textual analysis of a large number of major works of poetry, drama, and fiction reveals the course of the artistic development to be complementary to that of the theoretical advance.
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Literary Intellectuals

East and West

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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

The modernist movement, in literature as well as in criticism, provides a very instructive case of iconoclastic canon-change and subsequent canon-formation, and modern British literary criticism has been remarkably canon-forming in its basic tendency. This is particularly true of the line in British criticism that has revealed strong cultural preoccupations primarily centered on the works of T. S. Eliot and F. R. Leavis. George Orwell is a figure in the history of British cultural criticism who links the pre-war and the post-war generations of modernist writers and critics. Raymond Williams is the direct continuator of the line in English literary and cultural criticism formed by Eliot, Lawrence, and Leavis. The first seven of the essays collected in this book deal with Western intellectuals – in fact, with this largely British tradition of cultural criticism. They continue the argument, centered on these main figures, as it has subsequently developed in the works of Christopher Caudwell, E. P. Thompson, Perry Anderson, and John McGrath, among others, and touch upon more contemporary literary and cultural issues. Some of these issues, such as the spread of Islamophobia among a number of contemporary British intellectuals, are also discussed in another chapter in the book, and the division of what may be called the international intelligentsia into radicals, pundits, renegades, and imposters, in another chapter. The last three essays deal with major Arab intellectuals and Arab literary and cultural concerns. They focus mainly on the relationships of these key figures with political power, cultural identity, and exile.
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Seven Essays

Studies in Literature, Drama, and Film

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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

In Seven Essays: Studies in Literature, Drama, and Film, Abdulla Al-Dabbagh’s unique approach to literary and cultural issues succeeds in casting new light on these subjects, revealing innovative fields of research and investigation. Expressed in his usual lucid and eloquent style, this collection of essays deals with themes and topics raised in Al-Dabbagh’s first two books, Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism (Lang, 2010) and Shakespeare, the Orient, and the Critics (Lang, 2010). These essays also embrace further exploration in the area of literary criticism and literary theory and venture into the area of film studies. Whether discussing the drama of Shakespeare and Ibsen, Kurdish cinema, or issues of contemporary literary criticism and theory, scholars will find Al-Dabbagh’s fresh compilation of literary studies an essential contribution to the field.
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Socialist Literature

Theory and Practice

Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

Socialist Literature studies the relationship between the development of socialist literary theory and the process of cultural transformation in modern society by tracing the outline of the theory in the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, and examining its reflection in actual works of literature. This analysis is set alongside a detailed examination of the literary part of the cultural superstructure in China and in the Soviet Union. Among the major literary and theoretical works discussed are The Communist Manifesto, Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, Gorky’s Mother, and the poetry of Mayakovsky.
Key issues, like the position of the writer in society, the relationship of the old and the new in literature, and the much discussed relationship between the «creator» and the «audience», are examined and explained in a different light by regarding them as more than purely theoretical issues or abstract cultural problems and, instead, considering them as social issues that can only be settled at the level of practice.
Abdulla Al-Dabbagh amplifies the area of research by discussing some of the major opposing positions to the theory outlined and, by examining at length the portrayal of proletarian heroism, one of its key concepts, in the literary works of the same epoch. The result of the close textual analysis of a large number of major works of poetry, drama, and fiction reveals the course of the artistic development to be complementary to that of the theoretical advance.
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Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

A number of the greatest classics (both old and modern) of English literature, extending from Antony and Cleopatra to A Passage to India, contain a sympathetic portrayal of the East, which connects them to each other in a way that justifies the term «literary orientalism». Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism describes this clearly discernable tradition and examines certain key texts of oriental literature for the strong impact that they have had on English literature and for the striking manner in which they have been absorbed and appropriated into British culture. The Arabian Nights stands foremost among these works, which include the Maqamat, Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Bin Yaqdhan, as well as the oriental sources of courtly love. Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism then moves from literary orientalism to a discussion of postcolonialism and postcolonial discourse. It argues, principally, that the time has come to go beyond orientalism and postcolonialism to a more universalist approach. The inadequacies of the term «postcolonial», in particular, and the Eurocentric and Westernist perspective it implies, affirm the need for a renewed, modern form of humanism, a new humanist universalism.