Narratives of cities in novel and cinema


Publishing House: Arab Scientific Publishers

Publication Year: 2009

Genre: Criticism

Number of Pages: 205

The book “Narratives of cities in novel and cinema” by the Saudi critic, thinker, and translator Saad Al-Bazie was published in 2009 by arab scientific publishers, inc, comprising 205 pages.

In his description of the book, researcher Saad Al-Bazie highlights how the novel evolved alongside the significant transformations in urban development and city life. He emphasizes that “the city and urban society, with their varying conditions, levels, and patterns, provide the framework and backdrop in which characters develop, events unfold, and meanings evolve.”

The first section of this critical book by researcher Saad Al-Bazie revolves around this pivotal inspiration in the evolution of Saudi literary scene, seeking to delve deeper into what he terms “urban prose.” This encompasses narrative forms, both in the conventional sense of storytelling found in short stories and novels, as well as in the active and prose-like forms of poetry, where narrative thrives as well.

The researcher highlights some of the most prominent works where the presence of the city is evident in Saudi novels, such as “Sea-Wafted Women” by Omaima Al-Khamis, which portrays “sea-women undergoing a forced transition into desert-dwellers as a result of living in a city closely tied to the desert.” Another example is “Jahiliyya” by Laila al-Juhani, which exposes the structure of a society that claims morality and equality, while still being governed by contradictory concepts of injustice, ignorance, and the absence of justice. Additionally, “Hend and the Soldiers,” by Badriah Albeshr includes “a dynamic that encompasses a harshly male-dominated society and an oppressed female, with stories, coffee cups, and many dreams that are almost extinguished by frustration lying in between the two extremes.”

The critic also analyzes some works of Arab fiction in general, as well as texts by Syrian writers Abd Al-Salam Al-Ajili and Nabil Sulaiman. Furthermore, he examines two novels by Sonallah Ibrahim and Tayeb Salih, alongside a poem by Adonis, “all of which revolve around the image of the West in Arab culture.” He discusses the continued centrality of Western presence in these works, particularly among their prominent authors.

The researcher critically examines the novel “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by the African-American writer James Weldon Johnson, as it represents a limited yet significant aspect in addressing Arab novels in general. It raises the dilemma of dual identity.

In the second section of the book, the critic does not consider his insights on cinema as cinematic criticism per se. Instead, they are impressions of non-specialist viewers claiming relevance to the art form due to its reliance on literature in terms of narrative and storytelling, as well as its exploration of broader cultural or human issues.

The critic also comments on the events of the French film “The Hairdresser’s Husband,” which contains Gulf melodies, telling the story of a child whose dreams were modest, yet even ordinary dreams seem lofty enough to collapse. He discusses the importance of the renowned Japanese director Kurosawa and his films, linking the American film “Independence Day” to the concept of “manufactured American myths.” He delves into the background of the film “Goya’s Ghosts,” which takes the famous Spanish painter as a gateway to delve into the “Spanish/European cultural fabric,” and the ramifications left by films such as “The Visitor” by the American McCarthy, and the French film “Monsieur Ibrahim” deals with some complex issues related to religious coexistence, while “The Last Film” by Tunisian director Nouri Bouzid addresses the themes of religious extremism and terrorism.

The researcher and critic concludes his captivating and engaging book, which is both interesting and worthy of reading, with three lectures by Nobel Prize-winning authors. These include the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, and the British writers Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter.

Read More About Saad Al-Bazie

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