صافي صافي روائيا
Safi Safi as a novelist
نبيل نعيم عبد الفتاح عقيلان
Nabeel Naeem Abdul-Fattah Eqilan
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This research has aimed to trace and fathom the narrative art of the novelist Safi Safi in an attempt to explore the underpinnings and the characteristics which have shaped the distinctive features of this art. Safi has gained recognition in the literary arena since the publication of his first novel, Haj Ismael, which won the Palestinian Writers Union’s award in 1989. Since then, Safi has written a number of novels, and has become a member of the writers’ union’s executive committee since 1992. The present study covers the period between 1990 and the appearance of Safi’s The Curve in 2005. The study opens with an overview of the novelist’s upbringing and the micromacro cosmoses that constituted the environment in which he was raised, with some attention being paid to the manner in which that upbringing helped to shape the formative seeds of his education in a way which left its impact on his fictional creativity. For, the young Safi opened his eyes to the scenes of the 1948 Nakba, which he had to undergo with his family at the outskirts of Deir-Ammar refugee camp in the Ramallah district. With the rest of his Palestian people, Safi has all along shared and embraced the dream of return to the native soil and also of being freed from the anguish of homelessness. However, at the age of twelve, and like many of his generation, he suffered the shock of the 1967 Arab defeat which left a tremendous impact both on his heart and mind. Afterwards, Safi became more directly involved in political activities which led him to suffer the experience of imprisonment (1980) in a way that left its marks on most of his fictional writings. Now in as much as the novel constitutes an expression of the interaction between the individual and his social and cultural milieu, and in as much as it describes the kind of evolution resulting from the aforementioned interaction, this literary genre has admitted a variety of definitions based on its content and form, which has led to classifying novels into categories such as the conventional, the modern, the modern historical and the new novel. The present study has sought to demarcate these categories by clarifying the basic features of each category and has then placed the novelist’s works in their relevant categories. Subsequently, the study has dealt with the influence of the Oslo Accords on the content and artistic form of Safi’s novels. After clarifying the elements and features of theoretical definitions, the study has moved on to consider the empirical aspect where the specific content and subject-matter of each of the writer’s following novels are explored in order of publication (Haj Ismael, The Stolen Dream, Ascending Again, Alyaseera, Shihab, and finally The Curve). This laying out of relevant content and subject-matter constituted a preface, preparing the ground for going into the details of the narrative texture in Safi’s works. The content and theme of each novel has been approached and dealt with separately to show the wide variety of subject-matter which included the following: the impact of self / collective oppression in the multiplicity of its sources and the variance of its effects; the phenomenon of displacement and homesickness; the duality of the woman/child issue and the impact of oppression and exploitation on their intertwined fates; and the extant contradictions between the self (ego) and the other in as much as the relation between the two influences life style and its various features. The study has shown how these themes have focused on politically criticizing the internal Palestinian situation and its Pan-Arab counterpart as well as exposing the existent patterns of thinking and the shallowness of awareness which have both obstructed the movement of social progress and emancipation. A succinct summary of the most important events in each novel preceded the detailed presentation of the above-mentioned themes. Subsequent to the foregoing presentation the study has moved on to analyze the primary components of a novel, which include such elements as character, setting (time and place), plot and conflict. This analysis was based on a thorough analysis of each individual novel as a distinctive and independent entity in its own right. Examples and parts of text have been cited to reinforce the analysis and support the presented remarks, all against a background of the critical views of other researchers and critics who concerned themselves with the works of our novelist. After this, the present study dealt with the artistic aspects in the novels covered here, paying special attention to such aspects as language, variety of narrative styles, dialogue and flashbacks. The researcher has noted how the variety of styles reflects the variety in themes and implications in Safi’s different novels. The study has provided theoretical definitions for all artistic aspects and cited relevant examples and texts to illustrate each given aspect, making use also of the opinions and views of critics and other specialized studies. Nor has this research overlooked other artistic phenomena which have likewise contributed to enriching the fictional/narrative form and content in the novelist’s works such as the phenomenon of utilizing different types of intertextuality as well as heritage and mythology which have all added to the cultural enrichment of the texts and have helped to adorn them with an effective human touch. Through exploring the various aspects of form and content in Safi’s fictional experience, and presenting the most important critical views about his literary endeavor, this study has sought to respond to a number of questions regarding the fictional/narrative art of Safi Safi: Has the novelist succeeded in making good use of, and employing well in his works, the modern techniques of narratology? What are the most salient influences on Safi’s narrative art of some major political events such as the signing of the Oslo Accords? Has the novelist succeeded in depicting the concerns and sufferings of the Palestinian people in its persevering attempts to attain political, social and cultural emancipation? How has the novelist managed to set out from his own private vision and his personal experience to reach the sphere where he mirrors the broader human experience in its yearning for progress, liberation and getting rid of ignorance and captivity? The answers to these questions are to be found spread out throughout the different sections of this thesis. In fine, the study has also noted the interest that the novelist has in common with other local novelists in foregrounding place and intensifying the employment of mythology to the extent that the use of such devices has come to be regarded as a distinctive characteristic of the post-Oslo Palestinian Novel, which could constitute an interesting area of study for researchers concerned with Palestinian narrative art.