The book locates questions of languages, genre, textuality and canonicity within a historical and theoretical framework that foregrounds the emergence of modern nationalism in Egypt. The ways in which the cultural discourses produced by twentieth century Egyptian nationalism created a space for both a hegemonic and counter-hegemonic politics of language, class and place that inscribed a bifurcated narrative and social geography, are examined. The book argues that the rupture between the village and the city contained in the Egyptian nationalism discourse is reproduced as a narrative dislocation that has continued to characterize and shape the Egyptian novel in general and the village novel in particular. Reading the village novel in Egypt as a dynamic intertext that constructs modernity in a local historical and political context rather than rehearsing a simple repetition of dominant European literary-critical paradigms, this book offers a new approach to the construction of modern Arabic literary history as well as to theoretical questions related to the structure and role of the novel as a worldly narrative genre.
Introduction: The Peasant and Modern Narrative in Egypt 1. The Garrulous Peasant: Za'qub Sannu', Addullah al-Nadim and the Construction of the Fallah in Early Drama and Dialogue 2. Novels and Nations 3. Foundations: Pastoral and Anti-Pastoral 4. The Politics of Reality: Realism, Neo-Realism and the Village Novel 5. The Land 6. The Exiled Son 7. The Storyteller Conclusion