Middle Eastern Authors -- Celebrated With Nobel Term Paper

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Middle Eastern Authors -- Celebrated with Nobel Prizes, Prosecuted at Home

Modern Middle Eastern writers have often had a conflicted relationship with their national leadership and the people of their nation, even while Western readers and prize-giving committees welcome their unique perspectives with open arms. The authors are celebrated for their innovative style, such as the elusive, yet powerful deployment of symbolism in the works of the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz or the magical realism of the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. But the acclaim and awards these authors win do not always compensate, from the perspective of the national leadership, for the criticism of the regime that their art inspires. Protest groups advocating a fundamentalist Islamic or anti-Western view see authors such as Pamuk as denigrating the image of their nation, rather than contributing to Islam's long artistic legacy.

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The fate of authors like Pamuk, who loved abroad, yet prosecuted in his own country, suggests that great art can never function solely as a propaganda instrument of the national government. Until nations such as Egypt and Turkey embrace a broader conception of free speech, authors seemed doomed to suffer either in a kind of love/hate relationship with the powers that rule the nation, in the case of Mahfouz, or be threatened with out-and-out hostility as in the case of Orhan Pamuk and his Turkish compatriot, the feminist Elif Shafak. Despite the greater desire to experience trade with the West, hostility to independent thinking continues within the legal framework of the Middle East, and in the hearts of fundamentalist activists. Even the according of the Nobel Prize to Pamuk in 2006 was less celebrated in Turkey than one might have initially assumed, because of Pamuk's political views and his condemnation of the 1915 Turkish slaughter of Armenians as genocide. Fundamentalists saw the prize as a condemnation of their values, rather than a celebration of their culture.

Term Paper on Middle Eastern Authors -- Celebrated With Nobel Assignment

When the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz was given a state funeral in 2006, a mark of his service to his nation, the BBC news remarked upon the irony of the gesture. Mahfouz was the first Arab writer to ever win a Nobel Prize in 1988, but his relationship with the government of his homeland was not entirely harmonious. At first, he was celebrated for his realistic depictions of Arab life, in what later became known as his Cairo Trilogy, Between-the-Palaces, Palace of Longing, Sugarhouse in 1957. But his the Children of Gebelawi (1959), exhibited a new style and framework of interests "that frequently concealed [negative] political judgments under allegory and symbolism" ("Naguib Mahfouz: The Nobel Prize in Literature," nobelprize.org, 2006). Unlike later authors, Mahfouz was able to evade state scrutiny, partly because of his service to the government, but also because he never directly articulated his political views, merely hinted at them in his work.

Mahfouz's career was characterized by periods of 'fallowness' or literary silence that coincided with political events, such as the Egyptian war for independence, ending the first phase of his career, followed by periods of intense creativity. He wrote more than thirty novels, despite working for the Egyptian government as a civil servant until 1972, including as the Director of Censorship in the Bureau of Art "("Naguib Mahfouz: The Nobel Prize in Literature," nobelprize.org, 2006). However, his works, although not directly critical of the national government, always trod a delicate balance between articulated and allusive critiques of the government. After Mahfouz… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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