By Rasheed El-Enany
This can be one of many first books in English to discover Arab responses to Western tradition and values in glossy Arab literature. via in-depth learn El-Enany examines the attitudes as expressed frequently via works of fiction written through Arab authors through the 20th, and, to a lesser quantity, 19th century. It constitutes an unique addition to the age-old East-West debate, and is especially proper to the present dialogue on Islam and the West. along elevating hugely topical questions about stereotypical ideas concerning Arabs and Muslims normally, the publication explores representations of the West via the key Arab intellectuals over a two-century interval, as much as the current day, and may entice people with an curiosity in Islam, the center East, nationalism and the so-called ‘Clash of Civilizations’.
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Additional resources for Arab Representation of Occident: East- West Encounters in Arabic Fiction (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East)
The closing words are given to a French Orientalist wih whom the travellers had become friends and who acted as their guide during their visit of the Paris Exhibition. He is a wise enlightened man well-disposed towards Orientals and their culture, and not intolerant of their criticisms of the negative aspects of European civilisation, but he instructs them that Western civilisation, despite its shortcomings, has many virtues: ‘Do not deny it what is its due! Do not belittle it! But take of it, ye Orientals, what is good and suitable for you, and leave what is harmful and contradicts your nature!
In his introduction to the book, Mubarak states the instructive, encyclopaedic scope of the book with interests ranging from the ‘religious sciences and the skills of manufacture, to the mysteries of creation and the wonders of land and sea; the stages of mankind [’s development] in ancient times and what he is like at the present time . . all this given in the form of a journey made by a learned Egyptian shaykh [religious leader] called cAlam al-Din and an Englishman . . engaged in conversation to compare oriental with European conditions’ (pp.
Indeed, what is there is not even a neutral objective account of the observations of a traveller. Rather, it is presented with a sense of abandon, a delight in the joie de vivre, and, dare one suggest, an implied approval, and perhaps even an implied criticism of the writer’s own culture, with its austerity and inhibitions. If in doubt of his moral attitude, we could perhaps turn for further evidence to an article he wrote in al-Jawa1ib, the weekly newspaper he published in Istanbul between 1861–84.