Sunday, June 03, 2012
Science Fiction Arabic Literature
While European literary scholars and critics have been studying contemporary Utopian literature for several decades now, the first symposium on "Arabic Literature and Science Fiction" did not take place until April 2006. The faculty of literature and humanistics in the Moroccan city of Casablanca hosted a discussion about whether there is even an awareness of SF in the Arab world, why Arabic-language writers don't seem to enjoy SF at all and what was behind the lack of popularity of this genre of literature, even among academics.
At a meeting chaired by the professor for Arabic literature, Dr. Idriss Qassouri, delegates discussed the few novels by Arabic-language writers which address issues of the future. Participants analysed the current state of affairs and then criticised the fact that literature critics were also guilty of not paying enough attention to this genre. However, it proved difficult to produce a well-founded analysis, because there is "much too much Western theory for much too little Arabic material."
In terms of how this genre of literature is treated, the typical viewpoint until now has been as follows: in 1987, at a big symposium on children's books in the Gulf states, SF literature was still described as "stimulating in principle" but it was also noted that it would be better to set stories and TV series in surroundings already familiar to Arab children, to derive them from Arab culture and to adapt them to the religious principles of Islam. The motto was: "A child's imagination should be liberated - but within recognised limits."
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