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Hamlet's Arab JourneyShakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost$
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Margaret Litvin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691137803

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691137803.001.0001

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Hamlet in the Daily Discourse of Arab Identity

Hamlet in the Daily Discourse of Arab Identity

(p.13) 1 Hamlet in the Daily Discourse of Arab Identity
Hamlet's Arab Journey

Margaret Litvin

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores Hamlet's meaning in today's Arabic political vocabulary. Hamlet has been invoked in reference to nearly every major and minor political crisis touching the Arab world in the past decade. Analyzing his function in recent polemical writings such as newspaper columns, speeches, and sermons, this chapter shows how Arab writers read “to be or not to be” not as a meditation on the individual's place in the world but as an argument about collective political identity. Other themes from Hamlet—words/deeds, sleep/waking, madness/wholeness—help reinforce the urgency of the crisis. However, these cries of outrage and alarm are not the only approach to the issue of historical agency. As a counterpoint the chapter offers an instance of Hamlet rewriting by the important Palestinian–Iraqi writer Jabra Ibrahim Jabra.

Keywords:   political crises, polemical writings, collective political identity, Hamlet rewriting, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

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