Rhetoric of Body and/in Exile in Haydar's Wallmah Il-A'shab al-Bahr and Maraya al-Nar: Against Transnational Narrative of Exile

Hanna, Dima, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Al-Samman, Hanadi, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Virginia
Sawaie, Mohammed, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Virginia

This paper aims at an analysis of the re-presentation of the body in the post-war exile by Haydar Haydar, a Syrian novelist who has reflected in two of his novels on the aftermath of internal wars in the Arab world through casting his two exiles in a space that assumes linguistic, social and national similarities to the homeland. These two novels, Walimah li-A'shab al-Bahr and Maraya Al-Nar, have both been records for the post-war effects on the Arab youth who have fled the war in al-mashriq al-'arabi and have been cast in al-maghrib al-'arabi. This paper looks at the employment of the body and the encounter of male/female, mashriqi/maghribi bodies in exile as a vocalization of the agency of memory on exiled bodies. This paper attempts to redefine the agency of the body in exile through portraying it as the only, active tool in the individuals' suffering and in narrating exile. The agency of the body, as this paper attempts to show, is a technique of redefining exile as it purely and universally exists, divorced from linguistic or social aesthetic differences from the homeland. This separation highlights the suffering of post-war exile in that exile here challenges the transnational narrative of aestheticizing the experience of exile on the one hand. On the other hand, this separation aims to highlight the sole agency of the body as it becomes the only medium to document the suffering in exile. Suffering takes form in the imprisonment of the body in a forceful past and its constant desire to be united with it.

MA (Master of Arts)
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