Writing the Nation: Formation and Transformation

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Journal Title, Volume, Page: 
Journal of Contemporary Thought,24(winter)
Year of Publication: 
AbdelKarim Daraghmah
Current Affiliation: 
Department of English Language and Literature ,Faculty of humanities, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
Preferred Abstract (Original): 

How do all these words live?

How do they grow and blossom?

We still feed them tears and memories; We feed them metaphors and wine.

M. Darwish, "Roses and Dictionaries"

And some of us expect literature to provide us with comfort and consolation, or at least a few moments of mercy and grace, or at the very least a little distance and perspective. But I have neither comfort nor consolation, and I have no distance. I tell you that what was is no more.

Oz, "Of Dreams and Dreamers"

This paper discusses the: shifting conception of nationalism and the role literature plays in the evolution of a national character in the work of two renowned writers, Palestine's Mahmoud Darwish and Israel':; Amos Oz. Many a time in their work, Oz and Darwish stop to ponder the value d their writing to them individually as well as to their respective societies. They, obsessively return to the question "Why Write?" Each unequivocally describes the collective value of literary and non-literary work. Each denounces any work that questions a nation's existence. This paper engages the functionality of writing as Oz and Darwish perceive and practice it. I shall address this question within the context of literary and political theory, particularly focusing on three moments: Fredric Jameson's discussion of national allegory, Benedict Anderson's understanding of imagined communities, and Homi Bhabha's focus on modern hybrid nations. I examine these three with the claim that their premises on producing and interpreting cultural artifacts are not entirely transferable to the Middle East context. Given the fast succession of events in the area and the consequent formation and transformation of national discourse, the authors do not espouse a set of fixed national ideologies. The cultural condition remains circumstantial and contingent, marking both ruptures and continuities at significant moments.