Majnün Performing Autopsy: Exposing the Ugliness of Dictatorship in ??’ir al-Khar?b
Keywords:Authoritarianism, authoritarian deliberation, dictators, Majnün
AbstractTrauma and the experience of it is only one of the ways open for victims to speak and/or testify for the horror done to them. My argument in this paper focuses on the use of the verbal (i.e. words) and the nonverbal (i.e. the body) testimonies as modes of remembering and disclosure. Through the reading of the heart breaking love story of ??’ir al-khar?b by ?abd al-RRab Sar?r?, the paper shows how the novel gives a voice and space to Ilh?m to recounts her individual and collective past and expose the traumatic impact of the dictatorship on the female body, and by a means of allegory on the body of the nation, as exemplified by the character Ilh?m. The juxtaposition of both the story of the raped female body and the rape of the nation by the dictator, who is referred to throughout the novel as ??’ir al-Khar?b (the bird of destruction) as well as Sheikh al-qab?lah (the tribal sheikh), is read as an anguished cry for normalcy sought by not only women in Yemen but all the nation. Sr?r?’s representation of the body may be looked at, and this is what this paper is doing, as an index of his position on dictatorship, its nature, the relationship of the individual to state and society in it, and the place of authoritarianism within the decaying body of Ilh?m which he uses as an allegory to the body of the nation. Thus, the transformation of the trauma of the past, this paper suggests, is treated less as a source of knowledge than as a means of assigning a human-like quality to texts where they become able to speak, even if it is allegoric, to and of the present.
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