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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
The German Quarterly
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Summer, 1998), pp. 271-283
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/407704
Page Count: 13
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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.
The German Quarterly © 1998 American Association of Teachers of German