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German and Middle Eastern Literary Traditions in a Novel by Salim Alafenisch: Thoughts on a Germanophone Beduin Author from the Negev

Nina Berman
The German Quarterly
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Summer, 1998), pp. 271-283
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Association of Teachers of German
DOI: 10.2307/407704
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/407704
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
German and Middle Eastern Literary Traditions in a Novel by Salim Alafenisch: Thoughts on a Germanophone Beduin Author from the Negev
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Abstract

This essay contributes to the discussion of bicultural germanophone authors by identifying features at work in a fairy-tale novel by Salim Alafenisch. Rather than ethnicizing the text or its author, the article points to the literary conventions from German and Middle Eastern cultures apparent in Alafenisch's novel and raises questions concerning the reception of the text in the German-speaking context. A consideration of the distinct German and Middle Eastern interpretations of The Thousand and One Nights, the influence of a collection of fables known as Kalila wa Dimna, various satirical genres, Middle Eastern prison literature, and Beduin oral tradition unearths new aspects of the text, and reveals a richness and sophistication that might otherwise be lost on the uninitiated reader. Exploring these traditions not only acknowledges the aesthetic qualities of the text; it also brings to the fore its political import. By employing a range of literary traditions from different cultures, Alafenisch informs the reader about the situation of a community often overlooked in the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one which has its own cultural claims.

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