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Palestinian Literature and Poetry


The cultural production is considered as an undoubted evidence for the nation’s terminal trends, mostly when such a production becomes a history that time gives it a chance to crystallize an era whether politically, socially or economically. In the Palestinian case, the social, political factors played a major role in orienting the writers. Palestine, as a social, cultural being, used to have its traits specified by timely stages.


Another issue that, deeply, affected the orientation of the Palestinian writer; the occupation, whether the British one till 1948, or the Israeli one as the people which fights the occupation daily through thousands of styles, has to reflect such a suffering in its culture. Thus, the Palestinian literature, poetry, fiction and even the journalist essay all were mobilized so as to help the Palestinian resistance.


The said factors were not the only due to which the Palestinian literature and poetry developed as poetry and literature themselves have the natural auto development. Generally, there is no law that can control the literature development to be in a certain direction but through indicative conclusions out of the literature stages of production.



Palestinian Literature In The 2oth Century


- The Palestinian Literature Before 1948

- The Palestinian Literature After 1948


Palestinian Literature before 1948:

Before 1948, most of the literature was for poets, yet this doesn’t mean the absence of prose for scholars like Esaaf Al Nashashiby, Ibrahim Tokan (1905-1941), Fadwa Tokan and others. All were interested in briefing the political issues and the Palestinian crises. For example, the two poets Abdl Rahim Mahmood and Abdl Karim Al Karmy were not of the major poets concerning the artistic structure of the poem but they were well known for their brevity in tackling the political scene.


The narrative art, before 1948, was just in its experimental stages as the Arab narrative art in general lacked thee accumulative experience; the writers of this stage could not make it in specifying rules of such art. Despite the said fact, there were names like Khalil Baidass, Ahmed Al Karmy, and Jamel Al Bahry who translated tales into drama texts. Khalil Baidas was the owner of the first Palestinian novel “Al Wareath” the inheritant, published in Jerusalem, and the second one id for Essac Al Husainy “Diaries of a Chicken” . to sum up, most narrative works in that time were of pedagogical, instructive function.


Palestinian literature after 1948

After 1948 (Nakba), the poetry was greatly affected, in which all poetic traditional forms were rebelled against, thus the free rhymed poetry started to spread for being a pure artistic experience. Trials of Al Saiaab and Nazeq Al Malaika in 1947 were refused but the tragedy of 1948 paved the psychological atmosphere for the acceptance of dismantling the traditional form which was considered so holy to be changed.



Palestinian Poetry from 1948-1967


Fadwa Tokan was the most famous poetess in the era of the British mandate on Palestine, as well as Abdl Karim Al Karmy known as “Abu Salma” whose poems was characterized, after 1948, by confusion and diffidence. Tokan differently developed as she enriched the Arab poetry with lovely poetry that would express the female auto revelation for her self.


Another poet, Tawfiq Saigh was, back then, founding the modern orientation in the Arab literature, so he published his first collection of prosy poems under the title of “Thirty Poems”. In addition, Jabra Jabra translated the “Golden Branch” book written by Frazier in 1957 then a poem under the title of “Tawfiq Saigh Long Poem”.



The Narrative Art


- The narrative art from 1948-1967

- From 1967 till now

- Appearance of Mahmood Darwiesh

- Story and novel after 1967

- Conclusion


The Narrative Art from 1948-1967

The Palestinian narrative art in this stage was affected by a number of experiences in the Arab world, in which four writers were well known, all used to live out Palestine; Mahmood Al Irany (1914-1974), Jebra Jabra, Samira Azzam (1924-1964), Ghassan Kanafany (1963-1967). Al Irany wrote in the novel in the period between 1994-1917, his collection “With People” the one which improved his different abilities. While Jabra narrative works were imitated by a new, more sophisticated style as the collection “ Race and Other Stories” in 1956.


Samira Azzam started writing before 1948, her works indicated an awareness of the critical events were about to happen. Her stories reflected an auto restrain she imposed as a respect for her artistic tools. To sum up, her narrative stories are the most example of the Palestinian narrative stories in the fifties and sixties.


For Ghassan Kanafany, he entered the world of art when he published a collection of “Death of bed No. 12” in 1961 in which he was able to achieve depth, and variety. By publishing his second collection “Sad Land of Orange” in 1963, he proved him self as a first class narrative writer then he published “A World that is not of our own” about men and guns. In 1963 he published his first novel “Men In the Sun”, the one which made him to be one of the elites of the novel writers in Arab world in general and Palestine in specific.


From 1967 Till now

The seventies decade looked more like a battle field; as the Palestinian poets used to compete in brevity, innovation. Ultimately, the literary groups started to appear. There got to be a sense of confusion concerning what is necessary in modernization. Yet the appearance of a number of talented poets who regained their artistic independence which intern enabled poetry of paralleling. On the eve of the eighties, poetry was able to get rid of the negative characteristics of the seventies but it, in the same time, kept on brevity. In this regard we have a lot of names as Khairy Mansoor, Mured Al Barghouty, Ahmed Dahbour, Waleed Al Khozondar etc all used to write a different poetry.


Appearance of Mahmood Darwiesh

Mahmood Darwiesh was born in 1945, started his poetic process in the sixties. We cant talk about the Palestinian poetry progress without talking about the experience of Darwiesh as he greatly benefited from the sixties and seventies revolution especially in dealing with the feature poetry. Darwiesh cant be said to belong to a certain era as he got to be a part of a non divided element of the modern poetic movement within the whole Arab world. He, as well, could testified the Palestinians’ reputation as a nation that contributed, through his cultural giveness, in the worldly cultural life in the modern era.


Story and Novel after 1967

Email Habiby collection titled with “the six days sixfold” was issued in 1968, it made a huge fuss in Israel and the Arab world, yet his fame as a global writer was not affirmed until he wrote a novel of “The ill-fated Said” in 1974 as it was interpreted into Hebrew and other languages.


Jabra was the first Palestinian who could achieve fame out Palestine as he published seven novels yet his fictional fame was not a bit affirmed until he wrote his novel “The Ship” in 1970 and “Looking for Waleed Masoad”.


Concerning the young novelists, there are Ibrahim Naser Allah, Sahar Khalifa, Akram Hania and others.



The deteriorating conditions of occupied Palestine since 1967 as a result of the Israeli occupation that launched liar claims about being the owner of the land, affected the Palestinian style of writing in the poetry. Concerning the novel and story, they passed a number of stages that ranged between artistically high and low till they were able to settle the claims as it is a brand new experience, aged only half a century. The Palestinians as Jabra, Habiby and Kanafany reached important stages whether on the Arab world level or globally.




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