Migrations to the North. Images of the West in Arabic Literature

Marianna Salvioli

Abstract


By comparing some texts of the Arabic travel literature, this article aims to reverse the perception of the cardinal direction, West/East North/South. Travel seems to be a recurrent theme in the Arabic tradition: the ‘holy’ voyage, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which allowed mediaeval geographers to describe the lands and climates they traversed, has evolved in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries into a study mission or a “secular” travel to the West.

The first remarkable works in modern Arabic literature are just such travel reports, mainly towards Europe. They include, in chronological order, materials such as the famous tales of al-Tahtawi and al-Shidyaq, Tayyib Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, and contemporary migration literature written in Arabic as well as in other languages. It is important to observe a significant evolution of the literary genres: from the maqama and rihla by the early writers to the novel and chronicle of the more recent ones. Finally, this article shows that the West creates its own East just as the East creates its own West, thus the study of the imagery that the other develops about us is just as critical as the demystification of our representation of the other.

Keywords


Arabic Travel literature; Migration; West; RachidNini; TayyibSalih

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/276

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17625

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