A Contrapuntal, Ecocritical Reading of Abysmal Return in Contemporary Middle Eastern and Native American Fiction.


The research offers a contrapuntal, eco-critical and comparative reading of contemporary Middle Eastern and Native American Fiction. Nature is emblematic of socio-political, psychological, archetypal and historical issues in David Grossman’s novella “Yani on the Mountain”, Murid Bargouti’s I Saw Ramallah, and Louis Erdrich’s Love Medicine. The reading is also informed by Edward Said’s contrapuntal approach highlighting absences and omissions, as well as the portrayal of the Other. Nature, anthropomorphized and personified, is turned from an element of harmony to that of discord, thanks to man’s chaos. Several images, symbols and motifs are recurrent in each work, in addition to the multiplicities of narratives and tenses. The cyclical narrative structure and zig-zag progression of story-telling accentuate the somehow morbid mood, sordid atmosphere, and the human dissatisfaction of the authors with disorder and their statement on past and current affairs, as well as the somehow pessimistic future prospects. All this is best embodied in the womb-tomb motif prevalent in the three, where the journey home is, in fact, an engulfment by abysmal return. Mythical, as well as Biblical and Quranic allusions paradoxically strip the setting of the expected positive connotations, only to reinforce the apocalyptic quality of these counternarratives. Socio-political and historical subtexts glimmer beneath, reinforcing man’s setting loose of evil in Pandora’s box. From Yiddish and Cannanite to Chippewa, the three works spark a journey of aesthetic beauty and involve the reader in an urgent commitment to pressing human needs. All this is beautifully done through abysmal return to Mother Nature.

Author Information
Eman Helmy El-Meligi, Damanhur University, Egypt

Paper Information
Conference: LibEuro2014
Stream: Literature - Arabic/Middle Eastern Literature

This paper is part of the LibEuro2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon