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Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982 (Literature of the Middle East) Paperback – 14 Mar 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (14 Mar. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520087682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520087682
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Extraordinary prose poems translated from Arabic, written out of the siege of Beirut 20 years ago."--"The Guardian Review (UK)

About the Author

Mahmoud Darwish has lived most of his life in Lebanon and Palestine. The author of fourteen volumes of poetry and numerous prose works, he now lives in Paris. Ibrahim Muhawi is coauthor and translator of Speak Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales (California, 1988) and Journal of an Ordinary Grief (Archipelago Books, 2010), for which he won the PEN Translation Prize. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Folklore and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Out of one dream, another dream is born: -Are you well? Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Obscurity and clarity 30 Oct. 2012
By E. Strickenburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The obscure heaps on the obscure, rubs against itself, and ignites into clarity."

This quote epitomizes my experience of this book. Although technically written in prose, this book is a poetic journey through Mahmoud Darwish's experience as a displaced Palestinian of the 1982 bombardment of Beirut. Darwish is one of the most renown poets in the Arabic speaking world, and even in prose his words and metaphors strike deep.

The episodes in this book range from highly personal experiences of trauma to passionate political tirades - into the dream world and back to a reality that feels like a nightmare. It is a stunning look at the range of emotions of wartime trauma, from the sudden importance of simple acts like making coffee to the feeling of walking down the middle of an empty street hoping for the quick death of being caught by a shell rather than the slow death of being crushed under a building turned to rubble. The author's Palestinian identity adds the tension of being caught in the midst of a war, but with no true nationality or homeland.

As the book progresses, the language and metaphors become increasingly edgy and jumbled, leading to a sense of increased confusion and inability to cope with the violence of circumstances. This book is not for the faint of heart (nor for readers who find symbolist poetry especially frustrating). But it is a stunning window into the Palestinian identity and the trauma of war - and even the passages that seem dense with obscurity eventually ignite into an overall sense of clarity.
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