One Life is Not Enough

One Life is Not Enough

Publishing House: Madarek Publishing House

Publication Year: 2023

Genre: Criticism

Number of Pages: 77

“Hussein Mohammed Alawi Bafaqih’s ‘One Life is Not Enough’ is an evocative and densely packed exploration of literary memories and cultural chapters focused on reading and books. Born in 1964 in Jeddah, Bafaqih is a renowned Saudi literary critic and cultural historian. Despite its autobiographical-sounding title, the book unfolds as a profound and intimate journey with books and authors, revealing Bafaqih’s diverse interests in literature, criticism, language, and autobiographies, while rarely touching on philosophical issues.

Bafaqih’s book addresses various issues, phenomena, and matters in cultural and literary realms. He succinctly and profoundly writes about his experiences in reading and acquiring knowledge from childhood, offering insights into various cultural phenomena. His interests are primarily in literature, criticism, language, and autobiographies, with a rare focus on philosophical topics. He highlights the futility of hasty reading, emphasizing the value of re-reading beloved books multiple times.

The book alerts readers to the fact that popularity is often a matter of chance for books and authors. Some books gain widespread popularity, while others, more significant in content, do not receive similar attention. For instance, Bafaqih discusses Amin Madani, whom he considers an unjustly overlooked historian. In his evaluations of books and judgments on authors, Bafaqih relies on depth, avoiding easy research sources like Wikipedia in favor of more strenuous, thorough methods.

Divergent Literary Perspectives

Bafaqih sometimes differs from popular opinions. For example, he admires Ameen Rihani, Gibran Khalil Gibran, and Mikhail Naimy, regretting the time spent focusing on authors like Taha Hussein, Al-Akkad, and Al-Mazni. He rectifies this by concentrating on the works of Rihani, Gibran, and Naimy.

He mentions his strict self-imposed reading discipline: Prioritizing reading above everything else. I believe in reading as a laborious and challenging endeavor. Following exemplary figures like Omar Farukh, Ihsan Abbas, Hamad Al-Jasser, and Shawqi Daif as role models. Practicing what he calls ‘field reading,’ which involves reading a collection of books within a specific field. Carefully managing time and avoiding involvement in committees and gatherings.

‘One Life is Not Enough’ is a testament to Bafaqih’s profound engagement with the world of literature, embodying his belief that a single lifetime is insufficient to satisfy the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of reading.”

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