On Taha Hussein’s Newly Re-discovered Novel, ‘The Sheikh’s Sermon’

In any case, Hussein’s   novel will be of certain   interest to literary historians and scholars. The letters apparently address a woman’s right to education, freedom of thought, life, and marriage. Although the announcement provoked interest, a number of commentators   have reasonably suggested   The Sheikh’s Sermon   isn’t likely to be of interest beyond the scholarly community. After all, since the official list of Nobel nominations aren’t opened until 50 years after they’re made, Hussein is the only Arabic writer officially known to have been in Nobel consideration, outside of 1988 winner Naguib Mahfouz. Also, if Hussein had wanted to see The Sheikh’s Sermon   resurrected from the journal’s pages and published in book form, this   was certainly within his powers. Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrPinterestPocketLike this:Like Loading…‹ Algerian-Belgian Novelist and Screenwriter Malika Madi and Writing as InterventionCategories: Egypt The outline of its plot hints at didacticism and, others note, it was it was written before Hussein’s   beloved novel Du’aa al-Karawan, often translated as The Nightingale’s Prayer. The   announcement unnecessarily re-opened a debate over the “emergence of the Arabic novel,” which has sometimes been pinned to Muhammad Husayn Haykal’s Zaynab (1913), for reasons Elliott Colla addresses in “How   Zaynab   Became the First Arabic Novel.”   Yet in 1916, a number of books consciously modeled after the European novel were being produced in Arabic. The events of the newly rediscovered novel   reportedly unfold through the device of   15 letters exchanged between a young woman who works as a teacher, her fiance, a friend, and her father, as well as a religious student and a civil judge. At the end of March, there was   a flurry of discussion (here, here, here) about   a rediscovered novel by the “Dean of Arabic Letters,” Egyptian novelist and writer Taha Hussein (1889-1973):
The novel, The Sheikh’s Sermon,   reportedly appeared in installments in the journal Al-Safour in   1916. Moreover, we might more productively talk about a shift, whereby many elements of the European novel are incorporated into the Arabic literary tradition, rather than an   emergence.