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City of Beginnings$
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Robyn Creswell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182186

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182186.001.0001

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Figuration and Disfiguration in The Songs of Mihyar the Damascene

Figuration and Disfiguration in The Songs of Mihyar the Damascene

Chapter:
(p.94) Chapter Three Figuration and Disfiguration in The Songs of Mihyar the Damascene
Source:
City of Beginnings
Author(s):

Robyn Creswell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691182186.003.0004

Among all the figures produced by the Arab modernists, it is Mihyar, the gloomy, many-sided hero of Adonis's Aghani Mihyar al-Dimashqi (The Songs of Mihyar the Damascene, 1961], who most powerfully represents the Shi'r poets' conception of man. This chapter tries to explain how collective defeat and the subsequent renunciation of political activity left its mark on a poetics that is avowedly “nonpartisan,” abstract, and universal. It argues that Mihyar's “turn” is not to be conceived of as a turn inward but rather as a series of turns away—first of all, from the commitment to nationalism. It further suggests that the figure of apostrophe or the Arabic iltifat, both words meaning “a turn away,” is the central trope in Adonis's canonical collection.

Keywords:   Arab modernists, Mihyar the Damascene, Shi'r poets, man, Adonis

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