(In the name of bread and freedom: Tawfīq Yūsuf ‘Awwād and his al-Raġīf)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. IX, n. 17-18, dicembre 2019, pp. 107-124.
World War I has often been the privileged setting for the artistic experience of many intellectuals, who tried to give their personal response to such an event that influenced the future of their society. Arab writers also offered a glimpse into an historical event whose effects were felt well beyond the confines of the “Western World”. The experience of Lebanese writer Tawfīq Yūsuf ‘Awwād (1911-1989) flourishes in this literary milieu. In his book al-Raġīf (The Loaf, 1939), ‘Awwād describes the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during World War I: this novel was soon recognized as a landmark in the literary expression of Arab nationalism. al-Raġīf becomes the symbol of the impoverished inhabitants of a village subjected to a feudal authority: the author uses the powerful image of bread, symbol par excellence of life, to describe the daily struggle of the individual against every form of authoritarianism.
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