Cultural Journals and Modern Arabic Literature: A Historical Overview.
Thus, any study of cultural journalism, the organ of this distinct cultural sphere, is almost impossible without placing it in the wider context of the development of modern Arabic literature and its most important themes, schools, and developments. When Arab culture encountered the French Expedition at the turn of the nineteenth century, it produced a shock of realization that Arab culture was stagnating or at least behind its counterparts, (4) and sparked off a burning desire for change. From that time on, the change did not take place inside the Azhar, the major educational and cultural institution at that time, but outside it. Even when the reforms of Muhammad 'Ali (r. 1805-1848) and Isma'il (r. 1863-1879) developed a different educational system, which eventually led to the birth of the new Egyptian University in 1908, cultural and literary innovation continued to take place outside it.
At that time, European culture provided the model and dominant inspiration for this change. However, embracing such a different and foreign culture, its assumptions, norms, and literary genres, was a long and painful process that required mediation of its ideas, persuasion of its opponents, and radical transformation of the cultural field. When a culture has been static for so long, it develops inherent tendencies to perpetuate the status quo and resist change. Transformation is always difficult, particularly when it requires the development of a new "symbolic capital," adoption of fresh ways of thinking, and the genesis of new concepts and literary genres alien to the prevalent traditional modes of discourse. In Bourdieu's terms, this entailed a process of gradual devaluation of the traditional "symbolic capital" and the inherent structure of power it sustained. To brave the change, like-minded people gathered in formal or informal groups to develop and refine their ideas, and to support each other in disseminating them. They formed societies, exchanged views, aired their innovative ideas, and commented on each other's work. (5) If the impact of these activities were to be felt beyond the realm of the group and acquire currency, turning into "symbolic capital," they had to be disseminated to the wider public through journals.
The press and journals played a key role in the process of transformation of the cultural "worldview," dissemination of change, and the emergence of embryonic narrative genres and drama, as well as in the Neo-classical revival of poetry. Since the publication of the first Arabic periodicals--Mir'at al-Ahwal (1854) in Istanbul by the Syrian Rizqallah Hassun (1825-1880) and Hadiqat al-Akhbar (1858-1909) in Beirut by the Lebanese Khalil al-Khuri (1836-1910)--such publications were entwined with the revival of poetry in the former and the emergence of the first Arabic novel, Wayy idhan lastu bi-ifranji (Alas, I Am not a European, 1859), by al-Khuri in the latter. Hence, the publication of the first Arabic novel is inseparable from the rise of cultural journalism. When one speaks of cultural transition and literary schools or movements in Arabic literature, one is also speaking of literary journals, because journals were the organs that articulated the views of these schools and announced their existence to the reading public. (6) Journals have a different readership from books; they are characterized by a sense of urgency that demands the immediate attention of their readers. One can put off reading a book for a month or more, but one cannot do the same with a journal, since the following issue will be out before long. The immediacy that journals generate creates a sense of presence that gives them their unique role in shaping views and sustaining debates. Furthermore, the continuity of the journal and its presence through successive issues enable it to maintain topics and themes in the public domain for extended periods of time. Sustained debates are vital for new ideas and innovative works to make their mark, familiarize the reader with their new artistic conventions, challenge and refute the arguments of their adversaries, and win them currency and "symbolic capital." The very nature of the journal as a forum for divergent authors and varied views gives it a collective dimension that is totally absent from the book, which is generally the work of a single individual and a singular viewpoint. (7) Journals also present ideas that often require the collective wisdom of the literary movement by testing notions normally not yet ready to manifest themselves fully in book form.
This last feature makes journals indispensable tools for literary schools and movements. They allow the avant-garde ideas of talented individuals or visionary thinkers to be widely and openly debated, refined, and elaborated. Only these types of literary/cultural journals are the subject of this article. Its main concern is to chart the continuous process of literary innovation, cultural change, the development of significant literary trends and movements, and the way they used journals to disseminate new ideas and respond to opponents. Without a journal, any group of like-minded intellectuals remains a circle of private friends, even if they include prominent literary figures and their meetings and literary interaction continue for many years. The best example is the group of writers and intellectuals that gathered around Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006), known as the harafish, or that of dramatists around Nu'man 'Ashur (1918-1987), who for many years met regularly every week in certain locations or cafes in Cairo. (8) Yet, one cannot speak of a school or a movement related to these culturally significant groups. (9) This is because, important as they may be, (10) they remain private gatherings until they venture to put their output collectively to the general public.
From the beginning of the modern period, Arabic litterateurs, writers, and intellectuals understood that if they did not put their ideas into the public domain, they risked losing support and encouragement. They learnt this simple fact the hard way and paid a heavy price in the process. Events taught them that literary and cultural journals are their most effective tool for preparing the ground for change, winning over the reading public, and disseminating new and innovative ideas. After his return from Paris in 1834, Rifa'a Rati' al-Tahtawi (1801-1873), having acquired a sound knowledge of European culture and thought, was keen to start the process of change. He used the official journal al-Waqa'i' al-Misriyya to disseminate his new ideas. He also published his seminal book, summing up Paris, Takhlis al-ibrizfi talkhis bariz (1834), and supervised the translation of numerous articles, literary works, and text-books. But as soon as Muhammad 'Ali, the ruler who encouraged the changes, died in 1848, he was left out in the cold. The three rulers (11) who followed had no interest in the new ideas he represented. He suffered marginalization, and even exile, and had to wait for fifteen years until another enlightened ruler, Khedive Isma'il, came to power to restore his innovative project, and provide him with a new platform for his changes. During Isma'il's reign, al-Tahtawi regained his cultural influence and resumed his productivity. He wrote educational guidebooks, al-Murshid al-amin fi ta'lim albanat wa-l-banin and Manahij al-albab al-misriyya fi mabahij al-adab al-'asriyya, which were later perceived as milestones along the road to modernity. He realized towards the end of his career that all of this achieved limited success and could easily be overlooked. Despite his early successes, he himself was banished and his ideas were totally ignored for fifteen years. It was a historical coincidence that brought him back and not the intrinsic force of his work. What was needed to widen the impact of his work and that of his students, to gain currency, and to protect his achievements from neglect, was a journal. Such a journal was founded and edited by him: Rawdat al-Madaris (1870-1878). Its aim, as stated in its first issue by 'Ali Mubarak (1823-1893)--the cultural architect of Isma'il's reign--was "the consolidation of the educational system and the shaping of the minds of students and their sensibility" (5). It brought together the collective will of change and articulated it for the wider reading public. It is now recognized that the role of this journal was vital in establishing al-Tahtawi's ideas and changing the assumptions of readers, writers, and intellectuals. The impact of Rawdat al-Madaris is often seen as equaling the whole of al-Tahtawi's other works.
In the same year, Butrus al-Bustani (1819-1883) and his son Salim al-Bustani (1847-1884) published al-Jinan (1870-1886) and devoted it to the promotion of the new cultural and literary sensibility. As Ashraf Eissa's study on the journal convincingly argues, al-Jinan played a significant role in disseminating new and innovative ideas, familiarized the reader with the rudiments of narrative genres, and participated in the making of its early examples. (12) It also helped to change the prevalent literary sensibility and pave the way for a new one, as well as win it symbolic capital. Furthermore, it provides us with an insight into the pioneering narrative output of its editor, Salim al-Bustani, and outlines his contribution to this genre. As such, it is a valuable source for the historical study of the genesis of narrative discourse in Arabic; and, as the editorial of its first issue claims, it helped to "revive Arabic language, widen its scope, and sharpen its literary ability to exchange ideas among its readers" (2).
New Ideas, Change, and Cultural Revival
Al-Tahtawi's lesson was not lost. The literary movement realized from then on that a journal is a vital tool of innovation and change. It promotes new ideas and puts them in the public domain. It wins support for them and, in the process, provides intellectuals with protection from marginalization and even persecution. Writers and intellectuals throughout the Arab world have continued to use the literary journal regularly since that early time, particularly if they have new ideas and innovative work. One can chart the history of ideas, cultural movement, and literary trajectory of modern Arabic culture by examining that of its literary journals.
Even before the publication of Rawdat al-Madaris, 'Abdulla Abu-l-Sa'ud's Wadi al-Nil (1867-1878) played an important role in paving the way for the Neo-classical revival in poetry. It introduced the pioneer of Neo-classical poetry, Mahmud Sami al-Barudi (1839-1904), to the reader and paved the way for his innovative work and nationalist ideas. At the same time, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1804-1887) used his journal al-Jawa'ib (1860-1884) to disseminate his ideas and to undermine the traditionalists whose static vision was a major obstacle to the introduction of change and literary innovation. This was also the task of another journal which appeared in the same year in Tunisia, alRa'idal-Tunisi (1860). Without this, it would have been difficult to understand the work of Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi (1822-1889) or to follow the development of his ideas in his influential and seminal work, Aqwam al-Masalik (1868).
Al-Barudi's contemporary and mentor, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839-1897), was also aware of the importance of the press and literary journals for the advancement of his call for reform of Islamic discourse. Although he sought to develop his reform from within the traditional Islamic environment, he was adamant about widening its support by disseminating his ideas in cultural journals and newspapers. He prompted Adib Ishaq (1856-1884), one of his brilliant young students, to publish Misr in 1877, then al-Tijara in 1878 with Salim al-Naqqash (1850-1884). Then he encouraged al-Naqqash to secure concessions for his daily al-Mahrusa in 1880, which played an important cultural and nationalist role at the time. Later on, when al-Afghani and his most influential student Muhammad 'Abduh (1849-1905) were exiled to France, they continued to play their reforming rule through another journal. Al-'Urwa al-Wuthqa (1884) was their weekly journal which kept their presence felt despite their displacement, and maintained their role and influence despite the ban the British imposed on it in Egypt and India. Instead of diminishing its impact, the ban increased it and the eighteen issues published of this weekly had a tremendous effect on the reading public and on intellectual dynamism in Egypt. It is in this journal that the articles of Qasim Amin (1863-1908), in which he advocated complete unveiling of the mind, appeared and the early forms of his ideas on women's emancipation developed. It is hard to imagine the emergence of the influential mouthpiece of the Islamic regeneration, al-Manar (1898-1940) by 'Abduh's faithful student Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935), (13) without the eighteen issues of al-'Urwa al-Wuthqa. Both journals are essential sources for any serious study of the inception of modern Islamic thought and its cultural ramifications. They are also vital for any study of the transformation of Islamic discourse and the genealogy of modern "fundamentalist" thought and movements.
Another influential student of al-Afghani's is 'Abdallah al-Nadim (1843-1896), who developed his reformative ideas in a radically different direction. He separated the nationalist strand of his mentor's thought from its Islamicist one, and provided the former with a radical and social dimension. Among his contemporaries, al-Nadim was the keenest observer of social reality, and the most aware of the lessons of al-Tahtawi. He founded his first journal, al-Tankit wa-l-Tabkit (1881) to rejuvenate Arab thought and shape the agenda of social and national reform. The country was at the crossroads of a new era, and many forces were competing to stave off radical changes that were germinating among its public. Al-Nadim devoted the pages of his first satirical journal to promote ideas of change, criticize the stagnant present, and warn of the dangers ahead. When events developed at a fast pace, al-Nadim abandoned his satirical journal and founded another, al-Ta'if (1881-1882), more suited to the rising national sentiments and the changing situation.
The defeat of the 'Urabi revolt and the banishment of its leaders led al-Nadim to take refuge in the countryside for nine years. When he emerged from his internal exile, he established his most influential journal, al-Ustadh (1892-1893). On the pages of al-Tankit and al-Ustadh, al-Nadim articulated the new demands for narrative discourse and responded to them. His allegorical and didactic narrative sketches played a vital role in demarcating the themes, language, and modes of discourse required to respond to the reading public's need for new narrative genres. (14) In fact, al-Nadim is the embodiment of how journals enable an intellectual to punch above his weight. Al-Nadim was a gifted orator and a talented poet who wrote his poetry in the Egyptian colloquial language; but without his three journals, al-Nadim would have been forgotten, or reduced to the status of a minor intellectual of that period.
This was also the case of another of al-Nadim's contemporaries, Ya'qub Sannu' (1839-1912), who is remembered more for his journal Abu Naddara (1878), than for his rudimentary theatrical sketches. Abu Naddara was similar in its tone and orientation to al-Nadim's first satirical journal, and also played a pioneering literary role. Unlike al-Nadim's journals--which encompassed social, political, and literary concerns--Sannu"s addressed itself solely to the development of drama and the propagation of its editor's campaigns and personal vendettas. Yet it played a vital role in advancing the cause of theatre and demonstrating its relevance to the social and political reality of Arab culture. Although Sannu' ran into difficulties with the Khedive and was forced into exile, he continued his journal intermittently from Paris. Ideas similar to Sannu' 's were also offered on the pages of Thamarat al-Funun (1879-1889) which was edited by the Lebanese linguist and intellectual Yusuf al-Asir (1814-1889). Arabic drama became one of the staples of modern Arabic literature since that time.
The same period witnessed the publication of two major journals in Egypt: al-Muqtataf (1876-1952) by Ya'qub Sarruf (1852-1927) and al-Hilal (1892-present) by Jurji Zaydan (1861-1914). Unlike most of the previous journals, these two were not organs of a group of like-minded intellectuals with a literary and innovative drive, who run out of steam when they accomplish their literary mission. They were the work of single-minded visionaries who turned them to major cultural projects--each aspiring to become a lasting institution. (15) The former lasted for seventy-six years, (16) and the latter is still with us today, more than a century after its inception. They aimed to accommodate within Arab culture secular thought and forward-looking liberal projects. They had a comprehensive approach to culture and aspired to embrace a whole range of Western thought in order to familiarize the reader with the various aspects of modernity.
Both Sarruf and Zaydan were Lebanese emigres who fled Lebanon as a result of the sectarian strife and civil wars of 1860 and were determined to construct rational and secular thought in Arab culture. They were both concerned with widening the scope of Arabic language to accommodate new concepts and novel ideas. Both tried their hands at narrative discourse and wrote and published historical novels. (17) Their pioneering work in the field of the novel, particularly the many novels of Zaydan, played an important role in familiarizing the reader with the conventions of narrative and responded to the needs of the new reading public for a different literary discourse. One can argue that without their work, especially the prolific output of Zaydan, the emergence of more mature literary novels would have been significantly delayed.
Another Lebanese emigre who established a daring avant-garde journal in Egypt at the same period was Shibli Shumayyil (1853-1917) whose al-Shifa' (1886) went beyond any of the previous journals in emphasizing secularism, rational and critical thinking, and attacking hackneyed concepts and traditional beliefs. It was the first journal to introduce the Arab reader to Darwinism and socialism and promote their relevance to the country's progress and future development. Shumayyil also wrote two novels (18) and was instrumental in opening the way for progressive and radical thought in Arab culture; particularly thought related to realism and iltizam (commitment) in the following decades.
Journalism and the Genesis of New Genres
Many of the intellectuals who initiated the journals above, such as al-Khuri, al-Bustani, al-Nadim, Sarruf, Zaydan, and Shumayyil, tried their hands at different narrative genres; with Sannu' and al-Naqqash devoting their attention to drama. It is also noticeable that their works in these new genres were first published in their journals, often alongside articles defending the importance of such genres to the development of Arab culture. This period also saw other literary journals that contributed to the genesis of these new genres in different Arab countries, and initiated the debate about their importance and relevance, such as alBayan (1897-1898) of Ibrahim al-Yaziji and al-Mashreq (1898-1914) of Louis Cheikho al-Yasu'i (1859-1927) in Lebanon. One of the journals that continued both the patriotic and narrative mission of al-Nadim's al-Ustadh was Misbah al-Sharq (1898-1903) which was founded by Ibrahim al-Muwaylihi (1844-1906), then edited by his son, Muhammad (1864-1930).
Unlike Sarruf and Zaydan who appeased the British and avoided any confrontation with the ruling establishment, al-Muwaylihi was a polemical figure and patriotic intellectual. He opposed the British and engaged in an intense debate with their supporters. He led a sustained attack against the British occupation of Egypt, exposed its negative impact on the country, and lamented its drastic effect on education. He used satire and disguised his attack in narrative forms. While al-Ustadh was instrumental in the genesis of the Arabic short story, Misbah al-Sharq played the same role for the Arabic novel. It was on the pages of this journal that the text that achieved the climactic shift from traditional narrative discourse to the modern novel appeared, namely, Muhammad al-Muwailihi's Hadith 'Isa ibn Hisham (serialized starting 1898). The success of this seminal text by the son encouraged his father to embark on a similar narrative project, Hadith Musa ibn 'Isam (1901). The British banned the journal before the latter's publication was completed. A study of Misbah al-Sharq demonstrates the vital link between the rise of the new narrative discourse and the awakening of national consciousness. It also illustrates the painful transition from the traditional language and cultural orientation to the one whose underlying assumptions are informed by the tenets of modernity and governed by its different logic and perception of time and space.
Two other journals, al-Diya '(1898-1906) of Ibrahim al-Yaziji (1847-1906)--published in Cairo--and al-Jami'a al-'Uthmaniyya (1899-1904)--published in Alexandria and later in New York-as well as al-Jami'a (1906-1910) of Farah Antun (1874-1922) substantiate the orientation of Misbsah al-Sharq. Other journals outside Egypt played a similar role such as al-Muqtabas (Damascus, 1906-1913) by Muhammad Kurd 'Ali (1876-1953), al-Zuhur (Beirut 1910-1913) by Antun al-Jumayyil, and Lughat al-'Arab (Baghdad, 1911-1931) by Anastas Marie al-Karmali.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, poetry had come to the fore as the Neo-classical revival started to give way to the precursors of romanticism. Al-Majallah al-Misriyya (1900-1902) of Khalil Mutran (1872-1949) was the vehicle of this transition from Neo-classicism to Romanticism. (19) It presented the views of the new generation of young poets at the time, and heralded the forthcoming shift in poetic sensibility. The ideas of the Diwan group, (20) some of which were first articulated in al-Jarida (Cairo, 1907-1915) by Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid (1872-1963) before the publication of al-Diwan (1920) itself, owe a major debt to Mutran's ideas and his articles in al-Majalla al-Misriyya. This short-lived avant-garde journal played a significant role in shaping the most innovative ideas in the realm of poetry of its time. It introduced al-'Aqqad (1889-1964) and al-Mazini (1890-1949) to the concept of the organic unity of the poem and the importance of individual experience in poetry--the two main ideas that contributed to dismantling the edifice of Neo-classical poetry. In addition, the debate about al-Diwan which took place in 'Ukaz (1920) of Shaikh Fahim and al-Raja' (1922) of Layla Abd al-Hamid al-Sharif consolidated the impact and popularity of the book. (21)
The Call for National Literature
Lutfi al-Sayyid's al-Jarida introduced the new intellectuals of his generation to the literary scene, widening their appeal and cultural influence. It created an atmosphere conducive to cultural change and the acceptance of new ideas and new modes of discourse. Taha Hussein (1889-1973) promoted rational thought, objective and critical scrutiny of literature, as well as most of his radical ideas in his articles on its pages. Two of the most influential journals of the following decade emerged in response to al-Jarida and its call for reform and innovation-al-Sufur (Cairo, 1915-1924) of Mustafa 'Abd al-Raziq (1885-1947), (22) one of Lutfi al-Sayyid's students and friends, and al-Siyasa al-Usbu'iyya (1926-1930) of Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888-1956), who was also al-Sayyid's student and associate and one of the writers in al-Jarida.
The two journals advocated rational and objective approaches to the study of literature and called for the creation of al-adab al-qawmi (national literature). Unlike the modernizing measures taken by Muhammad 'Ali and Isma'il, this new call for national consciousness and national literature surged up within the cultural field against the will of the ruling establishment, and articulated a different set of demands. It was a movement expressing the new awareness of national identity, engaging literature in shaping the "national character," and expressing its dreams and aspirations as articulated in the 1919 revolution. It was a cultural translation of the political slogan "Egypt for the Egyptians" and succeeded in energizing different artistic forms. It found its expression in the music and songs of Sayyid Darwish (1892-1923), the sculptures of Mahmud Mukhtar (1891-1938), and the paintings of Mahmud Sa'id (1897-1964), among others.
The publication of these two journals coincided with that of a highly influential Palestinian journal, al-Nafa'is al-'Asriyya (Jerusalem, 1908-1923) of Khalil Baydas (1875-1949), which shared their vision and subscribed to their mission. It proved to be more effective and widely influential, (23) because the cultural formation of its editor--a graduate of the Russian Seminary in Nazareth--opened the world of Russian literature to the Arabic-reading public. Baydas was educated in Russian schools in Palestine and was sent to complete his studies in Russia, along with a number of future Levantine writers such as Nasib 'Arida (1887-1946), Mikha'il Nu'ayma (1889-1988), and 'Abd al-Masih Haddad (1890-1963). When Baydas returned and founded his journal, he and his colleagues provided the readers and would be-writers with a steady diet of Russian literature. It is this that helped the new narrative genres in Arabic to mature and provided them with depth, insight, and spiritual dimensions. Baydas himself, as well as a number of his Russian-educated colleagues, wrote short stories which are considered among the most artistically accomplished pioneering works in that genre in Arabic.
Romanticism and the Mahjar Journals
The Lebanese movements and journals that coincide with these Egyptian and Palestinian literary movements did not unfold in Lebanon, but in the United States. Their concern was not only narrative prose, but poetry and thought. The most influential writer in this respect is Jibran Khalil Jibran (1883-1931) who played an instrumental role in the formation of al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya in New York in 1920. Before the formation of this Pen Association, Haddad had established a monthly journal al-Sa'ih in New York in 1912, and in the following year 'Arida published al-Funun (1913-1918). The two journals were amalgamated in 1919 into al-Sa'ih (1912-1957) which became the official organ of the Pen Association. The works published in this journal called for the liberation of literature from traditional archaic modes of discourse and explored new themes and styles. They strengthened the bond between literature and the writer's experience and innovated language and prosody. They emphasized metaphoric devices and advocated the use of myth and legend to widen the scope of poetic discourse. Nu'ayma sent a collection of his articles, originally published in al-Sa'ih, to al-'Aqqad in Cairo to publish in book form. The publication of Nu'ayma's al-Ghurbal in 1923 was the culmination of both the innovative ideas of the Pen Association and those of al-Diwan.
A few years later, two different journals developed the ideas of al-Diwan and the Pen Association into a full-fledged Romantic Movement, one in Cairo, the other in Sao Paolo. In Cairo, Ahmad Zaki Abu-Shadi (1892-1955) formed the Apollo literary society, with a clearly Romantic mission and its own monthly journal, Apollo (1932-1934). It was the first pan-Arab society with members from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. (24) It freed poetry from the shackles of rhyme and rigid prosody and raised the social and cultural status of poets to the level of prophets and visionaries. It idealized women, love, and nature, emphasizing innovative language and emotional rather than realistic concerns. The vitality and originality of this journal and its importance for the study of modern Arabic poetry has been extensively studied in Arabic and English. (25)
In Sao Paulo, another mahjar movement was formed in the same year as Apollo. This was al-'Usba al-Andalusiyya which was clearly influenced by the Pen Association of North America. Although it had some talented members, such as Iliya Abu-Madi (1890-1957), Rashid Salim al-Khuri (1887-1984), Ilyas Farahat (1893-1977), and Fawzi al-Ma'luf (1899-1930), its influence on the wider Arab literary field was much more limited than its North American counterpart. The main reason for this lies with its literary journals, which were not as focused in articulating its views and carrying its vision to the wider reading public as those of the Pen Association. Both al-Samir (Sao Paulo, 1929-1957) of Iliya Abu-Madi and al-'Usba al-Andalusiyya (Sao Paulo, 1928)--unlike their North American counterparts--failed to consolidate into one influential journal. However, al-'Usba challenged the dominant poetic canon and simplified the language of poetry and its prosody. Like Apollo, it sought to posit the poet as a prophetic visionary soul. It shared Apollo's enthusiasm for sentiments and the common man, glorified nature, and condemned corruption and artificiality. It revived the tradition of Hispano-Arabic poetry and emphasized the duality of body and soul. Many of their ideas continued to inform subsequent publications in the Arab world, particularly in al-Thaqafa al-Suriyya (1933-1934) by Khalil Mardam that popularized their new romantic sensibility and more modern approach to poetry criticism.
New Sensibility and Artistic Representation
Al-Fajr: Sahifat al-Hadm wa-l-Bina' (Cairo, 1925-1927) has received attention in a number of recent publications (26) for its vital role in shaping the new narrative discourse. The title and subtitle of this journal emphasize the intention to achieve a cultural rupture and clear break with previous practices to build new literary thought and discourse. It was the organ of Jama'at al-Madrasa al-Haditha, the New School whose common dream was to have a paper of their own, to express their views and publish their unconventional and different works in a forward-looking journal.
This periodical provided a means of communication between the group and the reading public, almost acting as a collective. In addition, it established important bonds between this New School and young writers with similar views and aspirations in the country at large and in the rest of the Arab world. (27) Al-Fajr is widely seen as a document of historical significance in the transition of literary and artistic sensibility. It provided Yahya Haqqi (1905-1992) with what he called marhalat al-ghidha' al-ruhi, the stage of spiritual nourishment, in the cultural formation of the New School. The journal demonstrates how the group fell entirely under the influence of Russian literature until it became the main source of their inspiration. They identified easily with the world of pre-revolutionary Russia and read Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, and Artzybashev. (28) This journal represents a change in the quality of narrative by its ability to produce mature and sophisticated texts. It also provides evidence of the group's acquaintance with the work of Baydas and his translations in his al-Nafa'is al-'Asriyya, and demonstrates how some journals carried on the mission of their predecessors and developed it further.
This can also be seen with the two important journals, which appeared shortly after al-Fajr ceased publication, al-Hadith (Aleppo, 1927-1960) of Sami al-Kayyali (1898-1972) and al-Majalla al-Jadida (Cairo, 1929-1942) of Salama Musa (1887-1958). The former continued the task of its short-lived Syrian predecessor, al-Rabita al-Adabiyya (Damascus, 1921-1922), as well as that of al-Jarida and al-Siyasa al-Usbu'iyya in Cairo, and advocated some of the causes of the North American mahjar journals. The latter developed the seeds sown by al-Shifa' and championed the cause of progress, rationalism, and scientific and socialist modes of thinking. These two journals can be taken as marking the beginning of a schism in the history of cultural journals. This, in turn, was a reflection of the cultural polarization within the modern camp. Salama Musa published al-Yawm wal-Ghad (1927) and went on to introduce his vision for the future based on rational secular thinking and socialism in al-Majalla al-Jadida. The latter marked the beginning of a number of leftist publications, which advocated the social and political mission of culture and literature. It heralded the end of art for art's sake and strongly emphasized the concept of iltizam--engagement, or commitment in literature--which later became highly influential after the publication of Jean-Paul Sartre's Qu'est-ce que la litterature (1948). In the 1930s, the ideas and the cultural tone that al-Majalla al-Jadida offered were avant-garde and ahead of their time. It was on its pages that Naguib Mahfouz published his first work, and it was its editor, Salama Musa, who directed him to writing narrative fiction. It introduced readers to Fabian socialism, Marxism, Darwinism, Freudian psychoanalysis, modernist literature, and abstract painting. It published philosophical articles, scientific debates, and literary and artistic works of the avant-garde. But it was more than a decade before similar journals were published in Cairo, Beirut, and Damascus.
Al-Hadith was different in this respect, for it was soon followed by a number of outstanding journals in Cairo and Beirut which developed its project--with some of them eclipsing it despite the fact that it outlived many of them. In Beirut al-Makshuf (1936-1947) and al-Amali (1938-1941) flourished for some time, but neither eclipsed al-Hadith or diminished its role. Al-Hadith's strength resulted from its editor Sami al-Kayyali's close contact with Taha Hussein and a steady stream of outstanding Egyptian writers who provided it with cultural nourishment. But when Ahmad Hasan al-Zayyat (1888-1964) launched his influential literary journal al-Risala (1933-1953) in Cairo, it had a detrimental impact on al-Hadith. It soon outshone it and attracted many of its regular writers. Indeed, al-Risala became the most interesting and stimulating cultural journal of its kind. (29) Its remarkable success and widespread popularity in the Arab world encouraged Ahmad Amin (1886-1954) to launch a similar journal, al-Thaqafa (1939-1953). The two were very influential for a sustained period of time. They continued the task of cultural enlightenment along rational liberal lines, and widened the scope of the literary innovations introduced by many of their predecessors. They addressed the cultural concerns of the common reader, and their weekly publications sustained the reader's interest. They also established the role of literary criticism and introduced the reader to new critical approaches and methods of analysis of poetic and narrative texts. They aimed at educating more than innovating or breaking new ground, yet their sustained publication over many years, and their pan-Arab appeal, enabled them to reflect the trajectory of Arab culture during these years. Indeed, any detailed study of either of them becomes a study of Arabic literature during a number of decades, and it is not easy to associate any of them with a particular innovative drive, or a specific literary school, as is the case with Apollo or al-Fajr, for example.
Heralding Modernistic Literature
Although al-Risala and al-Thaqafa dominated the cultural scene for twenty years, the 1930s and 1940s witnessed the publication of other seminal journals. Most of these journals, with the exception of Taha Hussein's al-Katib al-Misri (1945-1948), were experimental or leftist in orientation, and keen to disseminate realistic representations. The younger generation of writers and intellectuals of the 1940s were emerging from a lower middle-class and peasant background, and were more aware of the social aspects of the national malaise. This was the period of social and political polarization in the Arab world, the struggle against colonialism, social discontent and national strife, and the heyday of committed literature.
Al-Katib al-Misri was the seminal journal that articulated Taha Hussein's vision in Mustaqbal al-Thaqafa fi Misr (1938; The Future of Culture in Egypt, 1954) and expressed its Mediterranean nature and orientation. (30) It was keen to conduct a meaningful dialogue between Egypt's Pharaonic past and its modern present and between the cultures of the deux rivages of the Mediterranean. It introduced the Arab reading public to the work of Franz Kafka, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bernard Shaw, and other leading modernists for the first time. It was acutely aware of the predicament of modernity and the importance of setting high literary standards for its readers and writers alike. Despite the controversy that surrounded its launch and closure, (31) it succeeded in heralding modernistic tendencies in Arab culture and establishing the importance of critical scrutiny of literary texts. It raised the standard of literary debate, paved the way for avant-garde literary texts in Arabic, and encouraged innovation and experimentation. One cannot study the rise of modernistic sensibility in Arabic literature in the second half of the twentieth century, or the modernistic avant-garde journals that proliferated during the late 1940s and early 1950s without tracing them back to this outstanding journal.
Al-Katib al-Misri emerged as a natural response to social and cultural polarization and a rapidly changing reality after the end of WWII. A new breed of intellectuals was emerging in the Arab world; Darwin, Marx, Freud, and even Einstein's ideas were rapidly taking root. This created a shift in vision and orientation which could not find a suitable forum for its articulation in the prevailing journals. Liberal as they may have been, the dominant journals of the time, such as al-Risala and al-Thaqafa, were ideologically conservative, and inherently incapable of accommodating the radical ideas or experimental work of the new generation. Although another contemporary journal, Majallati (1934-1945) of Ahmad al-Sawi Muhammad was more sympathetic to their creative works if not their radical ideas, this was not sufficient. Hence, they published their own journals. Most of these were left-wing in orientation, such as al-Tali'a (1935) of 'Umar Fakhuri in Syria, al-Tariq (1941-2012) of Antoine Tabet (1907-1964) and Ra'if Khuri (1912-1967) in Beirut, and al-Fajr al-Jadid (1945-1946) of Ahmad Rushdi Salih, al-Fusul (1946-1950) of Muhammad Zaki 'Abd al-Qadir, and al-Adib al-Misri (1950) of Muhammad Mufid al-Shubashi in Egypt. (32)
But the most interesting, innovative, and pioneering journal of these was al-Tatawwur (1940) of Anwar Kamil, (33) the organ of the avant-garde group Jama'at al-Fann wa-l-Hurriyya. This literary and artistic coterie was formed by a group of young writers and painters (34) who called for freedom of artistic expression and sought to publish new and experimental works epitomized in their slogan: "art, like bread and sex, is a basic necessity that should be provided for every citizen." They were the first surrealist group of artists and writers to emerge in Egypt and introduced the reader to the work of European surrealists and the tenets of modernism. Some members of the group, particularly one of its leading figures, Ramsis Yunan (1913-1966), were more inclined towards a purely artistic vein and emphasized the complete liberation of art from society, and the turn from external to internal reality, from the outer to the hidden inner world of fantasy and reverie. Yunan's extreme doctrine of artistic freedom caused the bifurcation of the group and led a number of members to form Jama'at al-Khubz wa-l-Hurriya, emphasizing bread as well as freedom. Yet the painters among them continued to produce abstract painting and experimental work. The work of both groups continued to appear in al-Tatawwur, making it even more interesting. When one reads it now, one is struck by how it is still relevant to the present reality, seventy years after its publication. This is due to its prophetic insight, its boldness in violating sexual and religious taboos, its ability to identify social ills, and its fortitude in dealing with sexual politics.
The short lived al-Tatawwur was followed, a few years later, by a similar journal, al-Bashir (1948), which presented the mature formulation of young writers of the period, striving for radical change in literary sensibility. Unlike the preceding experimental coteries that were largely dominated by painters, al-Bashir's group was almost exclusively literary. (35) Its manifesto eloquently delineated the need for a complete break with tradition, and rejected stale stories and philosophical doctrines. It outlined the cultural factors behind the urgent drive for radical change and emphasized the importance of experimentation in all literary forms. It called for free and absolute expression, and aimed to free style from the shackles of rhetoric. Indeed, the experiment of al-Bashir group was one of the most profound in modern Egyptian literature, for it did not confine itself to one form or genre, and was receptive to many new ideas and techniques. (36)
Al-Adab: Consolidating the Arab Cultural Scene
The promotion of new ideas and techniques by experimental journals prepares the ground for their gradual acceptance by a wider public. In Arabic literature, where the pendulum moves from the experimental to the mainstream, a new group rebels against the prevailing modes of discourse and explores new ideas and techniques in smaller journals. The established journals need to cater for a wider readership and to provide them with non-controversial work. The journal that managed to combine sensitivity to new ideas and techniques with wide appeal to the Arab public was the Lebanese monthly, al-Adab (1953-present) (37) of Suhayl Idris (1925-2008). This combination enabled it, soon after its inception, to claim the wider readership of al-Risala and al-Thaqafa which stopped around the time of its appearance, to eclipse the role of the more established al-Adib (1942-1983) of Albert Adib (1908-1985), and later on to marginalize its leftist counterpart, al-Thaqafa al-Wataniyya (1954). (38) It appeared with the ascending wave of liberation from colonialism that swept through the Arab world soon after its publication, and also with the advent of a new generation of writers with a different, but mostly realistic, sensibility. Culturally, it appeared a few years after the birth of the new poetic movement in Iraq, led by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926-1964) and Nazik al-Mala'ika (1923-2007) and championed its cause. Most of the major poets of this movement were published on its pages.
Soon after its publication, al-Adab succeeded in becoming an influential, forward-looking, pan-Arab journal, where writers from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon, and Morocco met readers from Arab countries. It championed freedom of expression and was a vital window on Western culture, particularly French existential theory and literature. (39) It supported new literary trends and innovative work, and perceived literature as a vehicle for change, reform, and progress. It transformed the language of criticism and developed new critical approaches to literature from psychoanalytical to Marxist and existential criticism. It promoted commitment in literature, fostered cultural dialogue, and encouraged new writers from all over the Arab world. It was relatively free from censorship and maintained a healthy distance from ideological dogma.
Although it was deeply rooted in realism and mimetic representation of reality, al-Adab sought to be at the forefront of modernistic tendencies and demonstrated its intellectual integrity. Most of the important writers in the Arab world for two generations or more--from Iraq to Morocco and from Syria to Sudan--published on its pages. From its inception to the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, it maintained the status of the most respected literary journal--a cultural institution, capable of giving legitimacy to those whose work appeared on its pages, without losing its ability to articulate the new or encourage the innovative. (40)
The success of al-Adab, particularly at the peak of its fame and efficacy in the 1950s and 1960s, generated a healthy response from several Arab countries. The 1950s were the early years of independence, the shaping of the national project, and the foundation of the infrastructure of the newly independent nation states throughout the Arab world. Journalism and the media were seen as important tools of that nation and cultural building process, (41) and al-Adab's success, as well as the closing of al-Risala and al-Thaqafa, made literary journalism feature highly on the agenda.
The State as a Player in Literary Journalism
In Egypt, the new regime of 1952 founded the first Department of Arts and Culture, Maslahat al-Funun, in 1955, which soon became a full-fledged Ministry of Culture and National Guidance (42) in 1957, and many Arab countries followed suit. Al-Risala al-Jadida (1954-1958) was founded by Yusuf al-Siba'i (19 1 7-197 8), (43) the cultural commissar of the new regime in Egypt, to replace the recently closed al-Risala. At the same time, another police officer with strong connections to the new regime, Sa'd al-Din Wahba (1925-1997), founded a cultural monthly, al-Shahr (195 5-1961). (44) The publication of these two journals coincided with the desire of a large number of Egyptian intellectuals to articulate the agenda for social and political change. The proliferation of the realistic trend in poetry, narrative fiction, and drama helped to shape this agenda, emphasized issues that required attention, and developed the critical language necessary for the elaboration of realist works in order to widen their appeal among readers. (45) It is noteworthy that these two purportedly independent journals, edited by army and police officers, lived much longer than a number of independent leftist publications such as al-Ghad (1953-1954) of Hasan Fu'ad.
The newly established Egyptian Ministry of culture was keen to create its organs, and al-Majalla was launched in 1957 as Sijil al-Thaqafa al-Rafi'a, a Record of High Culture, as its subtitle suggested. It raised the profile of serious cultural and literary pursuits and played a vital role in encouraging the new generation and innovative writing, especially during the editorship of the outstanding Egyptian writer Yahya Haqqi. (46) His appointment to its editorship was one of the significant achievements of Tharwat 'Ukasha (1921-2012), who held the post of Minister of Culture twice (1958-1962 and 1966-1970) and laid the foundation and the infrastructure of serious cultural programs. The most important accomplishments of the period are due to him. Although as an official journal, al-Majalla was not subjected to the censorship that afflicted all newspapers and other publications, it had to be aware of the fact that it was the organ of the Ministry of Culture. Its first three editors used its subtitle as a record of high culture to make it the forum of conservative and well-established writers. When Haqqi took over in 1962, he was keen to open its pages to the new generation of writers in Egypt and to writers from the Arab world, and this occasionally pushed it into the sensitive domain of oppositional discourse and necessitated a measure of internal censorship--by editors and writers alike. From 1964 to the end of Haqqi's editorship of the journal in 1970, he minimized its role as an official forum, and pushed free expression on its pages to the limit. Hence, it played a significant role in putting the work of the new generation of Egyptian writers, the 1960s generation, prominently on the cultural map, and with them many of their coevals in the Arab world. It is noteworthy that when Haqqi was dismissed from its editorship in 1970, al-Tali'a (1965-1977) of Lutfi al-Khuli (1928-1999) launched in 1971 a literary supplement to cater to the work of the Egyptian writers who were published in Haqqi's al-Majalla. Al-Tali'a was a leftist journal dedicated to politics, social thought, and economics, and was rarely interested in literature. Although its literary supplement was confined to 24 pages of each issue, it played an important role in maintaining the position of serious critical literature in the early years of Sadat's cultural regression. (47)
Several more specialized journals sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture followed such as: al-Katib (1960-1984), al-Masrah (1963-1971), al-Qissa (1963-1966), al-Shi'r (1963-1965), and al-Fikr al-Mu'asir (1965-1971). But none of them attained the influence, respect, and popularity of al-Majalla. This trend of the ruling establishment to support cultural journals and launder its image through such forums was replicated in Syria by al-Ma'rifa (1961) and al-Mawqif al-Adabi (1962); in Iraq by al-Aqlam (1964), al-Adib al- Mu'asir (1969), al-Mawrid (1965), and Afaq 'Arabiyya (1976); and in Tunisia by al-Fikr (1958). However, most of these journals disseminated rational realistic discourse and popularized the new works that shaped the progressive pan-Arab sensibility of the period.
Naturally, these journals were not founded in order to focus on free expression and innovative literary endeavor; they were often organs of state control and part of its strategy for the co-option of writers and intellectuals. The regimes that published them practised censorship and were intolerant of any expression of opposing views or ideologies--Nasser's Egypt and Ba'thist Iraq and Syria included. Yet these journals performed a significant function in raising the Arab cultural profile at large and creating a kind of literary vitality, since they often allowed the publication of works of censored writers from other Arab countries, while suppressing similar texts by writers from their own countries. So the writers who were censored in Egypt or Iraq found outlets for their work in Syria, while their Syrian counterparts published their work in Egypt and so forth. But if all else failed, Lebanon was, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Hyde Park of the Arab world and all works found an outlet, as a last resort, in Lebanon. The freedom enjoyed by Lebanese journals was not solely political, but also artistic and literary. They were largely free from the rigid hierarchy of the cultural establishment, the imposed taboos of the moral and religious institutions, the conservative taste of the traditional literary canon; and this enabled them to play an important role in maintaining innovation in the wider Arab cultural field.
Resistance to Officialdom and Cultural Rupture
The reaction to the success of al-Adab was not confined to formal governmental journals, there were also some private initiatives that deserve consideration--the most notable of which is Shi'r (Beirut, 1957-1964; 1967-1969) of Yusuf al-Khal (1917-1987). Al-Khal edited al-Huda (New York, 1952-1955) before returning to Beirut to open an art gallery and organize a sort of weekly literary salon from which the idea of his new journal emerged, largely in reaction to al-Adab's monopoly of the new poetic scene. (48) During its heyday, Shi'r intended to push the boundaries of poetic innovation further than al-Adab and to promote a different type of poetry than the one that dominated the scene at the time--a poetry free from any implicit claims of iltizam and social or political concerns. It promoted various tenets of modernism, championed experimentation and innovation, and initiated the genre of prose poem taking inspiration from French prose poems. But it was soon seen by its opponent as an organ of colonial conspiracy and counter-revolution in a period of rising anti-colonial fervor. The fact that the majority of its editorial board and many of those writing on its pages were previously associated with the Syrian Nationalist Party of Antun Sa'ada (1904 -1949), gave these accusations currency and helped to delay its impact on the wider cultural field.
Shi'r was not the only journal to challenge the supremacy of al-Adab; independent journals emerged in the 1960s in several Arab countries with this intention. In Beirut, Hiwar (1962-1967) was launched by the Palestinian poet Tawfiq Sayigh (1924-1971), and financed by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). It found itself a middle path between those of al-Adab and Shi'r, and was noted from the beginning for its innovative and avant-garde orientation, widening the scope of new writing and responding to the change in literary sensibility that characterized the 1960s generation. It attracted some young writers and innovative texts, and was making its impact clearly felt until it was revealed that the CIA financed the organization that asked Sayigh to edit it. The controversy which was initiated by two young Egyptian writers (49) snowballed and there was a search for confirmation of their accusation and insinuation. When Stephen Spender (1909-1995) resigned the editorship of Hiwar's sister journal Encounter, it became almost impossible for the journal to continue, and it was closed down in 1967. The closure of Hiwar was a mark of the vitality and independence of the Arab cultural field, its capacity to resist both official and foreign hegemony, and its ability to prioritize the dialectics of cultural and national interests. In the following year, the Syrian poet 'Ali Ahmad Sa'id (Adonis, 1930-) who assisted al-Khal in editing Shi'r realized the importance of journals in building their editors' image and maintaining it in the public eye. He founded his own journal, Mawaqif (1968-1994) which managed to cater to the literary production and readership of both Shi'r and Hiwar. In its early years in Beirut, before the Lebanese civil war, it published some of the best creative and critical output of Arab culture, and raised in its subsequent issues--published from London in the late 1980s and early 1990s--some of the significant issues of modernism in literature and critical theory. These three journals initiated a rupture in the previously integrated cultural field, ended its pan-Arab cohesion, and foreshadowed a polarization in the political field that followed.
Other independent journals appeared at the time, the most notable of which were Gallery 68 (1968-1971) in Cairo and al-Kalima (1968) edited by Hamid al-Matba'i in Baghdad. Their very appearance was seen as a challenge to the hegemony of official control of the cultural field and resistance to cultural dependency on a flawed political establishment. The disastrous Arab defeat of 1967 provided the background against which the emergence of these two journals should be understood. They announced the birth of a new generation of writers, for, unlike the previous journals that were usually launched by established writers, they were edited by a group of young writers in both Egypt and Iraq. They became organs of the younger generation who foresaw in their writing the impending disaster, but no one heeded their warning. It is significant that the two journals emerged in Egypt and Iraq, two countries in which cultural initiative had become for some years the monopoly of the state. The writers who launched or wrote in them did not lack outlets for their work, either in their country or outside it in the wider Arab world. But they were making a statement by participating in an independent forum which only published work by writers of their own generation, in order to set their work apart from the mainstream with its hypocritical or obfuscated vision. The very launch of each journal was an act of rebellion against the prevailing establishment, and a metaphoric expression of the younger generation's loss of confidence in it. The beleaguered establishment took this act of defiance seriously, but the collective nature of these journals and the strong sympathy they generated among Arab readers protected them. Gallery 68 gave birth to the phenomenon of the 1960s generation in Egypt, as did its less famous counterpart in Iraq. (50)
The Rise of the Maghreb and Short-Lived Journals
These two journals, Gallery 68 and al-Kalima, heralded the rise of the phenomenon that has dominated literary journalism ever since: the short-lived literary journal, edited by the younger generation of writers both in the Levant and the Maghreb. A notable exception is al-Thaqafa al-Jadida (Casablanca, 1974-1983) of Mohammed Bennis (1948-). This was preceded by the sporadically published Aqlam (1964-1966 and 1972-1982) of Ahmad al-Sitati, and followed by two more independent Moroccan literary journals: al-Jusur (1980-1983) of Abd al-Hamid 'Aqqar, and al-Zaman al-Maghrebi (1980-1983) of Amina al-Bilghithi, but they did not have the sustained cultural vision and a group of like-minded writers to keep them going for 10 years as Bennis's journal did. Al-Thaqafa al-Jadida brought a stream of new ideas, which has ever since been associated with the contribution of the Moroccans to the wider Arab cultural field. It mediated recent trends and innovative ideas that were developed and debated in France, a role that al-Adab and Shi'r played until the breakout of the Lebanese civil war.
Unlike al-Adab, which was mainly focused on disseminating Existentialism and the work and ideas of Sartre and de Beauvoir, and Shi'r, that was dedicated to the introduction of new French poetry to the Arab scene, al-Thaqafa al-Jadida had a wider range of concerns, debating theoretical issues as well as introducing new writers. It illustrated how different the cultural formation of the writers of the Arab Maghreb was from that of their counterparts in the Mashreq, Egypt, and the Levant, and demonstrated that the dependency of the Maghreb on the cultural production of the Mashreq, which marked the first generation of Maghrebi writers, had ended. It adumbrated a radical change in which the situation was reversed: The Maghreb started to lead the Mashreq, particularly in the field of literary theory and intellectual history. (51)
The phenomenon of short-lived, but highly interesting, Maghrebi cultural journals continued throughout the 1980s, attracting the attention of the Arab world. They made a significant contribution to Arabic critical discourse, developed new critical language, and adapted the concepts of Western critical theory to Arabic literature and criticism. These new journals addressed the shortcomings of the government-sponsored journals such as al-Thaqafa (Algiers, 1970), al-Hay'a al-Thaqafiyya (Tunis, 1982), or al-Manahil (Rabat, 1968). None of these new independent Maghrebi journals, such as Afaq (Rabat, 1980) of Ahmad al-Yaburi, al-Badil (Rabat, 1981) of Salim Humaysh, al-Nashir al-'Arabi (Tripoli, Libya, 1983) of Khalifa al-Tilisi, Bayt al-Hikma (Casablanca, 1986) of Mustafa al-Misnawi, or 'Uyun al-Maqalat (Marrakesh, 1986) of 'Abd al-Samad Bilkabir, and al-Masar (Tunis, 1988) of Muhammad al-'Arusi al-Matwi received the attention they deserve. This is a result of the historical bias in literary and critical studies towards Egypt and the Levant, often at the expense of the Maghreb. They failed to get noticed or distributed outside their respective countries, and they emerged in the context of inter-Arab conflict, when borders had become more difficult to cross, particularly after Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977.
The phenomenon of enforced cultural borders is a product of the decade of the 1970s, which witnessed the impact of Sadat policies in Egypt and the civil war in Lebanon on the literary scene in the Mashreq: Sadat orchestrated a cultural policy of what I called elsewhere manakh tarid (expelling atmosphere) which drove rational, leftist, progressive, and secular intellectuals to leave the country, in the meantime empowering their regressive and Islamic counterparts. Soon after Sadat took office and consolidated his power, (52) student demonstrations erupted in 1972, and writers supported the students' demands. (53) Sadat dismissed some 200 writers from their jobs, (54) banned others from publishing their views in the state-controlled media, and closed ten cultural and literary journals that were sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. (55) He replaced the ten journals with one, al-Jadid (1972), edited by Rashad Rushdi (1912-1982), which was conservative and reductive in its orientation. This tightened the grip of manakh tarid and fostered a culturally stifling atmosphere. Many writers and intellectuals left the country to work abroad or suffered from internal exile. The young generation of writers found themselves orphaned in a hostile atmosphere with normal cultural outlets closed. Unlike the writers of the preceding generation, they could not escape with their work to the sanctuary of free expression in Lebanon, for by then the Lebanese civil war had ended this oasis of democracy. They had no alternative but to launch their own journals, most of which were inspired by the example of Gallery 68. Even government-sponsored Sanabil (1969-1972), published in Kafr al-Shaykh in Egypt and edited by the poet Muhammad 'Afifi Matar, was closed after publishing a poem by Amal Dunqul that criticized the Government.
Emerging writers launched a large number of short-lived journals in which they presented their vision of cultural life in Egypt. The publication of these journals spans twenty years and is responsible for the emergence of the two succeeding generations. Like Gallery 68, they are collectively edited, austerely produced, and relatively limited in their distribution. Here are some of them: Ida'a 77 (1977), al-Kurrasa al-Thaqafiyya (1978), A swat (1979), Kitaba (1979), al-Tajawuz (1980), al-Naddaha (1980), Manf (1980), Khutwa (1980), Misriyya (1982), al-Fajr (1983) Panorama (1984), al-Thaqafa al-Wataniyya (1985), al-Kitaba al-Sawda' (1988), al-Kitaba al-Ukhra (1991), al-Arbi'a'iyyun (1992), Hajar: Kitabat al-Mar'a (1992), and al-Jarad (1994). (56) These journals are vital for any study of the new writers who emerged in Egypt since 1970. They provide cultural formation, innovations, and ideas; they highlight their cultural rupture with the preceding generations. The literary picture which emerged is an anti-establishment one that discards all ideologies, violates taboos, renounces patriarchy, and rejects any hope or future. It is a picture of a world that dwells in the present, breaks away from the past and tradition, frees itself from all conventions, including prosody and various literary conventions. It revels in the transgression of generic boundaries, declares the death of many of the assumptions of modernity, celebrates its new approach to reality, and seeks to promote what it calls the writing of the body.
By 1980, the Sadat regime was becoming increasingly isolated internally and externally. The massive demonstrations of January 18-19, 1977 stripped it of its legitimacy at home. In this interregnum, Sadat sought to regain significance by going to the Knesset to plead for a political solution for the liberation of the occupied Sinai. This led to the Camp David Accords which proved to be detrimental to the regime, isolating Egypt culturally and politically from the rest of the Arab World. It was opposed by most of the Egyptian intellectuals in the diaspora and at home, particularly when the Camp David Accords led to the opening of an Israeli Embassy in Cairo and Israeli participation in Cairo International Book Fair. In 1980, the Egyptian establishment understood the importance of using Egypt's soft power, its literature and culture, to restore the image of the regime. It launched the quarterly Fusul (1980) and the monthly Ibda' (1980). The former was intended to capture the momentum of the new language of criticism and theory that has been initiated by the Maghrebi journals, while the latter sought to resume the role that was played by al-Majalla during Yahya Haqqi's editorship in the 1960s. Fusul was more successful in achieving its goals than its monthly sister, particularly in its early years. It played a vital role in mediating the various new approaches to criticism such as Structuralism, Russian Formalism, Semiotics, Post-modernism, and Deconstruction into Arabic discourse and the Arab literary field, providing the space for their application to various literary texts. But because of the failure of Ibda' to play the old role of al-Majalla, the 1990s generation of Egyptian writers were left without an organ to reflect their vision or provide a clear outlet for their work. (57)
Palestinian journals were also short-lived, both in the occupied territories and in the Palestinian diaspora. The most notable exception, which rapidly became a significant literary force in the Arab literary field, is al-Karmil (1978-2006), edited by the leading Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008). The stature of its editor and the literary vision behind its project guaranteed its high standard and kept it for many years at the forefront of literary innovation. Instead of compromising its standards when the plight of the Palestinians prevented him from maintaining it, Darwish stopped issuing his journal; and when the situation permitted, he resumed it again in 1994. It was the most influential journal at the time, for its selection of texts to translate and issues to debate, and introduced Postcolonial theory and cultural criticism to the Arab cultural scene. It maintained a dialogue with anti-Zionist intellectuals and kept the Palestinian cause prominently on the map.
There are also several Palestinian journals that deserve studying: al-Sharq (Haifa, 1910),al-Mujtama' (Nazareth, 1982), and al-Mawakib (Nazareth, 1994). But Masharif (1995-), the journal founded and edited by Emile Habibi (1921-1996) and later edited by Siham Dawud in Haifa, stands out for its major contribution to sustaining Arab culture in occupied Palestine, and for its cultural resistance to the Zionist project.
In addition, there is a group of journals which one might call the new mahjar. Since the 1970s and Sadat's policy, many Arab writers left their countries and lived in imposed or voluntary exile, often in Europe. In the 1970s, the majority of them were Egyptian intellectuals. In the 1980s, they were mostly Lebanese who lost hope of an imminent end to the civil war, and were soon followed by the exodus of Iraqi and Syrian intellectuals. In the 1970s, there were several Arab dailies and weeklies in London and Paris and many other periodicals in European countries such as Sweden and Denmark. Some of these, particularly the London ones, are still in existence, (58) and many of them have vibrant cultural pages that act as an outlet for new writing and innovative ideas.
Among such journals, which have a clear cultural or literary mission, are al-Ightirab al-Adabi (London, 1987) of the Iraqi poet Salah Niyazi, Faradis (Paris, 1987) of another Iraqi poet, 'Abd al-Qadir al-Janabi, al-Naqid (London, 1988-1996) of the Syrian writer and publisher Riyad Najib al-Rayyis, al-Lahza al-Shi'riyya (1992) of the Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, and al-Katiba (London, 1993) of the Syrian poet Nuri al-Jarrah. Many of these journals deserve further studies, particularly al-Naqid when it was edited by the eminent Syrian writer Zakariyya Tamir and al-Katiba. Both succeeded in playing a role back in the Arab cultural field. Particularly noteworthy is the phenomenon of very short-lived serious quarterlies, or kitab ghayr dawri, a non-regular book--a designation coined to circumvent legal prohibition on launching serious journals, such as Qadaya wa-Shahadat (Damascus, 1989) of Sa'dallah Wannus and Qadaya Fikriyya (Cairo, 1986) of Mahmud Amin Al-'Alim, and Fikr wa-Naqd (Casablanca, 1999) of Muhammad 'Abid al-Jabiri, each of which merits an independent article.
The last 25 years of Mubarak's regime in Egypt were marked by the shift to a culture of spectacle, carnival, and co-option which compromised the role of serious literary journalism. Some of the important manifestations of this policy are the floundering of Fusul and Ibda' and their suffering from gaps, on the one hand, and, on the other, the issuing of official weeklies such as Akhbar al-Adab (1993) of Gamal al-Ghitani and al-Qahirah (1998) of Salah 'Isa. The title of the former suggests the shift towards the spectacle, in its Post-modern sense, by the move from presenting literature to offering "news" about literature, while the latter sought, without success, to put the name of Cairo back on the map of Arab culture. Although they occasionally published important texts, they became tools of power, propaganda, and state hegemony in the Gramscian sense. They perpetuated the vision of the establishment and structured the cultural field through calculated strategies of promotion and devaluation.
Addendum: The Explosion of Electronic Fora
The explosion of the internet has had a major impact on Arab culture. Internet use represented 1% of the Arab population in 2000, but rose to 16% in 2009 and to 28% in 2015. Cyberspace has become the space for literary and cultural publication in the twenty-first century, and any investigation of literary journalism in this century needs to look closely at it. But this task is beyond the scope of this survey, (59) given that the last ten years or so witnessed the proliferation of online fora. Some are journals in the old sense of the word and many others are sites and blog-like publications. A study of these fora would also require a different theoretical approach based on the Deleuzean concept of the rhizome (60) besides Bourdieu's concept of the cultural field. The internet itself seems to embody the six principles of the Deleuzean rhizome with its connection, heterogeneity, multiplicity, signifying rupture against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure, and the principle of cartography and decalcomania. (61) Here I can only briefly allude to my personal experience editing one of the most widely read/visited online cultural/literary journals, al-Kalimah, (62) The internet's impact on Arab literary journalism certainly deserves a separate study.
(1) See my book The Genesis of Arabic Narrative Discourse for an outline of the complex process of cultural transformation that rejects the old binary of West and East, modern and old stagnant cultures.
(2) The author wishes to thank the three anonymous reviewers who read this article, commented on many of its aspects, and suggested further readings; their views were very helpful in addressing the shortcomings of its earlier version.
(3) See Bourdieu, 29-72. And for detailed discussions of its application to Arab culture, particularly Egypt, see Jacquemond; Kendall (especially chapter 4).
(4) One of the major documents of the shock triggered by this encounter is the annals of Jabarti, particularly his visit to the French cultural mission and his commentary on the procedure of the trial of Sulayman al-Halabi.
(5) For a detailed account of these societies and the new vision they artic ulated, see Hafez, The Genesis, 71-82. And for a general introduction to Arabic journalism, see Mellor.
(6) Journalism, as a cultural institution, is a much larger phenomenon than that of literary innovation. The focus of this article is on the subfield of literary/cultural journalism.
(7) Edited books are a fairly recent phenomenon. Normally books were, and still generally are, the work of a single individual or at most two.
(8) There are many similar gatherings throughout the history of modern Arabic literature and throughout the various countries of the Arab world. Some of these groups made it into the memoirs of their members, others disappeared without trace. The ones that left a mark on their cultural scenes are the ones who produced journals. I speak from personal experience for I was an active member of the society of writers and intellectuals of my generation in the 1960s. We continued to meet regularly for seven years, but the cultural establishment only started to notice our existence when a group of us published Gallery 68. Its publication coined the term "the sixties generation", and articulated its vision and innovations.
(9) The history of Arab culture is full of groups of writers and intellectuals meeting regularly in cafes from the time of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839-1897) and his meetings in Matatya cafe in the nineteenth century. In the present, such meetings take place in Izavitch, Riche, al-Huriyya, Suq al-Hamidiyya, Shahbandar, and al-Bustan Cafes. This is not a phenomenon confined to a certain city or to one Arab country, but is widespread from Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut and Tunis.
(10) These gathering are important for the cultural formation and apprenticeship of young would-be writers, but they are also vital for the continuity, development, and relevance of the major writer who leads and organizes them. Mahfouz's weekly meeting with young writers, as he confessed to me, continued to provide him with inspiration and an acute sense of direction for his narrative discourse. His discussion with them and his reading of their work acquainted him with the new literary sensibility and drew his attention to certain narrative techniques. His awareness of their social vision, political views, and living conditions kept him abreast of changes in society.
(11) These are Ibrahim (1848), Abbas I (1848-1854) and Sa'id (1854-1863).
(12) For more on al-Jinan and its contribution to Arabic narrative discourse, see Eissa.
(13) For a detailed study of Abduh and his disciple Rida, see Ryad.
(14) For a detailed account of his role in the development of narrative, see Hafez, Genesis, 113-28.
(15) They succeeded in their aspiration, for Dar al-Hilal is still one of the major cultural and journalistic institutions in Cairo today. For a discussion of its role, see Khuri-Makdisi.
(16) Al-Muqtataf was an important cultural institution for more than seventy years of its history. For more on its role, see Philipp. And for a detailed study of al-Muqtataf, see Glass; Rodriguez Fernandez.
(17) Sarruf published three novels and Zaydan has 23 novels to his name, which are part of his ambitious project of rewriting the history of Islamic societies in a series of narrative works.
(18) Shumayyil's novel is entitled al-Hubb 'ala al-fitrah or Qissat Samir wa-Halwa (Natural Love or the Story of Samir and Halwa).
(19) Mutran later established and edited al-Jawa'ib al-Misriyya in 1902.
(20) The leading members were 'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad, Ibrahim 'Abd al-Qadir al-Mazini, and 'Abd al-Rahman Shukri (1886-1958).
(21) Shaykh Fahim defended Ahmad Shawqi's poetry in his journal and published other articles in his defense by Ahmad Fu'ad, while al-Raja' devoted its pages to al-Aqqad's refutation of their defense, and further articles undermining his work.
(22) 'Abd al-Raziq was the intellectual and financial driving force behind this journal, though its official editor was 'Abd al-Hamid Hamdi.
(23) The young intellectuals of this period testify to the remarkable impact of Russian literature on them, and the group of young writers and intellectuals who formed the "New School" in Cairo are the embodiment of this impact. For a detailed account of this, see Hafez Genesis, 90-106.
(24) Such as Ahmad Zaki Abu-Shadi (1892-1955), Ibrahim Naji (1898-1953), 'Ali Mahmud Taha (1902-1949), and Muhammad al-Hamshari (1908-1939) in Egypt; Ilyas Abu-Shabaka (1903-1947) and Bishara al-Khuri (1890-1968) in Lebanon; 'Umar Abu-Rishah (1910-1990) in Palestine; 'Ali al-Nasir (1896-1942) in Syria; Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi (1901-1934) in Tunisia; al-Tijani Yusuf Bashir (1912-1937) in Sudan; and 'Abdallah al-Faysal al-Saud (1921-2007) in Arabia.
(25) See for example al-Disuqi, Badawi, and Ostle.
(26) Particularly in de Moor.
(27) By the time al-Fajr ceased publication in 1927, the group had grown enormously. It included many short story writers--Mahmud Tahir Lashin, Hasan Mahmud, Husayn Fawzi, Ahmad Khayri Sa'id, Andria Jibril, Mahmud 'Uzzi, Yahya Haqqi, Sa'id 'Abduh, and Habib Zahlawi, among others.
(28) For a full list and an elaboration of this aspect of their education see Haqqi, 80-81.
(29) For a detailed study of its history and role in cultural life, see Hamza.
(30) For a detailed account of another important aspect of this vision, see Hafez, "Badawi."
(31) There was a controversy about the intentions of the publishers who financed the journal and approached Taha Hussein to edit it. They were seven Jewish Egyptian entrepreneurs, and the Palestinian intellectuals raised doubts about their link with the Zionist plot against Palestine at the time, and the hidden agenda behind the foundation of their publishing house. Hussein investigated the matter before accepting the editorship, and declared that he was assured beyond any reasonable doubt that the publishers had no links whatsoever with the Zionist movement (see Hussein). However, the clouds of doubt continued to hover over the journal and it ceased publication on the eve of the Palestinian nakba (disaster), and in the very month. May 1948, in which the Zionist Settler State was declared.
(32) For a detailed account of these journals, see al-Sa'id.
(33) Kamil was by then already notorious having published al-Kitab al-manbudh.
(34) Apart from Anwar Kamil, the group included Ramsis Yunan, Georges Henein, Albert Cossery, Kamil al-Tilmisani, 'Abd al-Mughni Sa'id, and 'Abd al-Hamid al-Hadidi, among others.
(35) Among the members of the group were Yusuf al-Sharuni, Badr alDib, Mahmud Amin al-'Alim, Fathi Ghanim, 'Abbas Ahmad, and Ahmad 'Abbas Salih.
(36) For more details on the period and the role of these journals in changing literary sensibility, and a translation of the mission statement of this journal, see Hafez, Quest, 260-70.
(37) Al-Adab continued to be published regularly after the death of its founder, edited by his son Samah Idris, but it floundered during the Lebanese civil war, and its distribution suffered from inter-Arab strife and its banning from several countries. In 2014, it ceased publication in print form and it is now only published online.
(38) Baladissera gives a vivid account of this journal and places it in the context of leftist publications of its time.
(39) Its editor devoted his effort to the translation and publication of the work of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), and, thanks to him, Sartre's work was available in Arabic long before its translation into English.
(40) For a comprehensive study on this journal, see Ruocco.
(41) See Anderson's argument on the role of journalism in nation building, particularly chapters 2 and 3.
(42) The last part of the name was dropped later, and its mission has been taken over by establishing a Ministry for Media and Information, which was also replicated in many Arab countries.
(43) Al-Siba'i was an army officer who earned the trust of the Free Officers, though he was not one of them, from the early days of Nasser's era. His father, Muhammad al-Siba'i, was an outstanding translator and intellectual with some links to the New School. Al-Siba'i wrote some novels while he was an officer; soon after 1952 he resigned from the army and was given the unofficial role of cultural commissar. He became the Secretary General of the Higher Council for Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences, which was established by a presidential decree in 1956, as well as the secretary general of many other cultural organizations such as the Pen Club, the Writers Union, the Narrative Writers Club, the Afro-Asian Writers Union, and the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organization, among others.
(44) After editing al-Shahr, Wahba started writing short stories then plays, and became one of the major dramatists and screenplay writers of his generation. He also became the Secretary General of the Egyptian Writers Union before his death.
(45) For a detailed study of how the first five collections of short stories published by Yusuf Idris between 1954 and 1959 articulated this agenda for change, see Hafez, Quest, 145 -70. This was also the case with the early plays of Nu'man 'Ashur.
(46) Al-Majalla had three editors in four years: Muhammad 'Awad Muhammad, Husayn Fawzi, and 'Ali al-Ra'i, after whom Haqqi took over and edited it for twelve years. Before Haqqi, it was highly conservative, open only to well-established writers, and closed to the works of the younger generation. Haqqi's era made it one of the most important journals of its time, and a real record of the cultural pulse of that period. He opened its pages, not only to innovative and experimental writings by the younger Egyptian writers, but also to the wider Arab literary scene.
(47) For a full-length book on Lutfi al-Khuli and al-Tali'a, see Gunat.
(48) For detailed accounts of the trajectory of this journal and its role in the cultural field see de Moor, "The Rise" and Haidar.
(49) Hafez and 'Isa explain how their own dealing with the journal led them to develop fundamental reservation about its stance and ideology.
(50) In the case of Gallery 68, it was not the fact that an independent journal was breaking the State's monopoly on cultural journals that enraged the establishment, for the leading critic and scholar Amin al-Khuli (1895-1966) was editing his independent but conservative al-Adab for some years without any problem. It was the tone of rejection that pervaded the new journal and its critical stance which enraged both the cultural and political establishments. Attempts were made to maintain, and even co-opt, the new generation of writers in Egypt, either by Yusuf al-Siba'i through his many cultural outlets, or by the political establishment through the organization of a "Conference for Young Writers" in 1969. For a detailed study of Gallery 68, and the 1960s generation, see Kendall.
(51) This is clearly seen in the work of Muhammad Arkoun and Muham mad 'Abid al-Jabiri throughout the 1970s and 1980s which led the debate in intellectual history and Islamic studies and brought to it fresh critical approaches and new methodology.
(52) Anwar al-Sadat took office after the death of Nasser in September 1970. He consolidated his grip on power after eliminating the Nasserites in May 1971. When the students demonstrated in 1972 and writers supported them, he took the opportunity to purge cultural and public life of leftists and Nasserites in order to embark, later on, on his different and opposite path. His economic open-door policy proved to be disastrous, and by January 1977 mass demonstrations erupted against his rule. In order to stave off public anger, he went in the same year to Jerusalem and sought to conclude a unilateral agreement. The Camp David Accords were signed in 1979 and proved to be even more unpopular, leading to his assassination in 1981.
(53) This was the time when Sadat's regime encouraged the Islamists to eliminate leftist and Nasserite opposition from the media and the university, and they used the opportunity to widen their base among the young and spread their influence.
(54) Sadat started his reign with the dismissal of 200 writers from their jobs--among them the eminent Yusuf Idris--and the banning of many others, and ended it with the imprisonment of 1600 writers, intellectuals, and politicians in September 1981.
(55) Among the journals that were closed are al-Majalla, al-Masrah, alFikr al-Mu'asir, al-Kitab al-'Arabi, al-Qissa, al-Shi'r, al-Risala, al-Thaqafa, Turath al-Insaniyya, and al-Funun al-Sha'biyya.
(56) They require a separate and detailed study of their aims and content, since they demonstrate the resilience of the cultural movement to oppression and the closing of its horizon.
(57) This can also be argued in relation to their counterparts in most of the Arab world. By then, all the Iraqi cultural journals were suffering under the heavy weight of economic sanctions. The Syrians and Lebanese ones were also entangled in the aftermath of the power vacuum at the end of the Lebanese civil war, and the new journals launched by the oil-rich countries to replace the role of the dilapidated center failed to play any significant role.
(58) The emergence of the Arab press in London is linked to the oil boom of the early 1970s, on the one hand, and the migration of Lebanese newspapers because of the civil war, on the other. But their continuation beyond the context that created them is a testimony of the changing reality in the Arab world and the growth of the Arab migrant community in Europe. At the beginning of this century, there were six Arab dailies in London, al-'Arab, al-Quds, al-Hayat, alSharq al-Awsat, al-Mustaqilla, al-Zaman, and a large number of weeklies and monthlies.
(59) There are literally tens of online journals and sites, and there is a need to evaluate them and study their cultural politics, impact on the literary field, and contribution to the cultural scene in the wider Arab world.
(60) For a delineation of this concept, see Deleuze and Guattari 3-25.
(61) For elaboration on these principles, see Deleuze and Guattari 7-15.
(62) I launched al-Kalimah in January 2007. Now, in its tenth year of regular monthly publication, it has hosted writers from the Arab world and the wider Arab diaspora. When I embarked on this project, I was aware of a number of factors that contributed to the launching of this online journal. These include: the rapid growth of reading on the internet in the Arab world, particularly among the younger generation; the dwindling market of print literary journals, on account of the delays in their appearance which wrecked their regularity, the raison d'etre of journalism; the growing cost of print journals, which priced their reader, particularly the young, out of the market; the tightening of various boundaries--geographical, political and censorship-related--which deterred their movement and decreased their dissemination; the urgent need for a truly independent literary forum that was regular and free from censorship and co-option; the need for a critical forum capable of "speaking truth to power," following Edward Said; and, finally, the fact that the young writers and the marginalized were already flocking to the internet and creating their own blogs. When I started al-Kalimah, there were less than five million Arab users of the internet, and cultural blogs were proliferating at a high rate. It was high time for changing this. The burgeoning blogs were a direct product of lack of democracy in the Arab world; they provided clear evidence of the younger generations' dissatisfaction with print media and their desire to reject political and economic corruption and kleptocracy. In the field of culture and literature, the dominant concept was mawqi' (site), in which a group of like-minded young writers published their work and that of their friends, and invited others of similar orientation to join them. There was little or no quality control or editing involved and this led to the rise of the term 'ashwa'iyyat (mushrooming structures) on the internet. Many sites started to acquire a negative reputation for their lack of mastery of the Arabic language, agitation, and lack of ethics and professional judgement in their selection or criticism; others attracted the wrath of the official establishment, particularly when they voiced their views of corrupt cultural practices. As a new literary journal, al-Kalimah aspired to bring the best practices and conventions of Arab cultural journalism--quality control, professional language, ethical critical conduct, and the regular appointment with the reader--back to cultural journalism. It endeavored to redress the declining role of the intellectual in the eyes of its Arab readers and provide a forum for those who "speak truth to power." Its main aim was to bring back the Arab literary journal that publishes every month some of the best texts that the unified field of Arab culture, from Iraq to Morocco and from Syria to Yemen and Sudan, produces, demonstrating its unity in the face of boundaries. The journal can be accessed online at: <www.alkalimah.net>.
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|Publication:||Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2017|
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