March 22, 2024

“The Greatness of the Eye” – Seeking Humanity Amid the Noise of Nonexistence

The greatness of eye

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Recently, the art of the novel has dominated not just the Arab literary scene but the global one. Yet, in the Arab context, the annual output of novels far exceeds that of short stories, which in turn surpasses the production of theatrical works. Numerous studies have monitored this phenomenon, notably “The Time of the Novel” by Dr. Jaber Asfour, the former Egyptian Minister of Culture.

This brief introduction is crucial to appreciate the significance of Saleh Zamanan‘s “The Greatness of the Eye,” published by Almutawassit Publications (Milan). The Saudi poet and playwriter presents four plays titled: “Confinements,” “AlFadeh,” “Coffee,” and “Nostalgia.” This book underscores the Arab writer’s continued capacity to deliver compelling theatrical texts, celebrating the tradition established by mid-20th-century Arab dramatists like Tawfiq al-Hakim and Alfred Farag.

Freedom: The Starting Point of Everything

Throughout the book and its four plays, Zamanan seems preoccupied with exploring freedom. He attempts to unpack its meaning and significance, using it as a springboard to convey his ideas. In “Confinements,” he proposes a thought experiment:

What if people were imprisoned within the bodies of others, unknown to both prisoner and jailer?

What if the body itself became a prison, its rooms internal labyrinths of someone’s psyche, including chambers of memory and burdens?

This opening inquiry in the approximately 130-page book, laden with rhetorical questions, might suggest a philosophical tome, but these queries are vital as they edge closer to introspections that some may hesitate to confront.

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