Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four: The University of California Book of North African Literature

Pierre Joris
Habib Tengour
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 792
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four
    Book Description:

    In this fourth volume of the landmarkPoems for the Millenniumseries, Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour present a comprehensive anthology of the written and oral literatures of the Maghreb, the region of North Africa that spans the modern nation states of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, and including a section on the influential Arabo-Berber and Jewish literary culture of Al-Andalus, which flourished in Spain between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. Beginning with the earliest pictograms and rock drawings and ending with the work of the current generation of post-independence and diasporic writers, this volume takes in a range of cultures and voices, including Berber, Phoenician, Jewish, Roman, Vandal, Arab, Ottoman, and French. Though concentrating on oral and written poetry and narratives, the book also draws on historical and geographical treatises, philosophical and esoteric traditions, song lyrics, and current prose experiments. These selections are arranged in five chronological "diwans" or chapters, which are interrupted by a series of "books" that supply extra detail, giving context or covering specific cultural areas in concentrated fashion. The selections are contextualized by a general introduction that situates the importance of this little-known culture area and individual commentaries for nearly each author.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95379-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xxx)
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
    (pp. 1-10)
    Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour

    This book has been incubating in our minds for a quarter century now, and we have been gathering material for even longer — with the aim of assembling and contextualizing a wide range of writing from North Africa previously unavailable in the English-speaking world. The result is, we believe, a rich if obviously not full dossier of primary materials of interest not only to scholars of world literature, specialists in the fields of Arab and Berber studies, but also to a general audience and to contemporary readers and practitioners of poetry who, to deturn a Frank O’Hara line, want “to see...


      (pp. 13-16)

      (1) Human traces in North Africa go back to more than 40,000 years B.C.E. But our knowledge of them is limited to a specific area: the region of Gafsa in west-central Tunisia, with ramifications toward the high plains between Constantine and Sétif in Algeria, and areas of the Sahara and ancient Cyrenaica—modern Libya. In this region snail farms and a stone and bone industry were found, indicating that from about 8000 until 4000 B.C.E., the human inhabitants seem to have been rather sedentary: they lived on snails, plants, and wild fruit while also hunting mammals and birds. They had...

    • The First Human Beings, Their Sons and Amazon Daughters
      (pp. 16-20)

      In the beginning there were only one man and one woman, and they lived not on the earth but beneath it. They were the first people in the world, and neither knew that the other was of another sex. One day they both came to the well to drink. The man said: “Let me drink.” The woman said: “No, I’ll drink first. I was here first.” The man tried to push the woman aside. She struck him. They fought. The man smote the woman so that she dropped to the ground. Her clothing fell to one side. Her thighs were...

    • Hanno the Navigator (Carthage, c. sixth century B.C.E.)
      (pp. 21-22)
      Hanno the Navigator

      The Carthaginians decided that Hanno should go past the Pillars and found Carthaginian cities. He set sail with sixty penteconters carrying thirty thousand men and women with provisions and other necessities. After passing the Pillars of Hercules and sailing for two days beyond them we founded the first city, which was named Thymiaterion. Around it was a large plain. Next we went on in a westerly direction and arrived at the Libyan promontory of Soloeis, which is covered with trees; having set up a shrine to Poseidon, we set sail again toward the rising sun for half a day, after...

    • Callimachus (Cyrene, 310–c. 240 B.C.E.)
      (pp. 23-25)
    • Mago (Carthage, pre-second century B.C.E.)
      (pp. 26-26)

      In buying new bulls make sure they are squarely built, with great limbs, long black and robust horns, a wide and curling brow, hairy ears, eyes and lips black, nostrils turned up and open, a long and muscular neck, ample dewlap (falling almost to the knees), breast great, forequarters vast, a spacious belly (as if always full), flanks extended, loins wide, back straight and flat (or even sunken), buttocks round, legs compact and straight (more short than long), knees not weak, tail long and bristly, hair of the body thick and short—of reddish or dark color—and a body...

    • Lucius Apuleius (Madaurus, now M’Daourouch, c. 123–c. 180 C.E.)
      (pp. 27-28)
      Lucius Apuleius

      [7] Immediately afterward, I awoke from sleep into a state of panic and joy. I rose quickly, disordered, and drenched in sweat. I was amazed at the clear vision of the powerful goddess in my dream. So I sprinkled myself with seawater, and eager to understand her great command, I recalled over and over the order of her instructions. Then immediately a golden sun arose, dispersing the clouds of dark night, and there a crowd filled all the streets with a triumphal, religious procession. . . .

      [8] Lo! this prelude of the great parade gradually marched along beautifully adorned...

    • Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (Carthage, c. 160–c. 220 C.E.)
      (pp. 29-31)
      Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus

      1.1. You who have been always leaders of Africa, men of Carthage, men of rank, men of happiness, I am glad you live in such prosperous times that you can find both the time and the pleasure of censuring clothing! This is the sort of pursuit of peace and plenty. All is well on the part of the empire and on the part of the sky.

      However, in the past you too wore your clothing, tunics, differently: they were even famous for their skillful weave, harmonious coloring, and proper size. For they did not fall extravagantly over the legs or...

    • Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus (Carthage, early third century–258 C.E.)
      (pp. 31-31)
      Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus

      You rightly chastise me, dearest Donatus, though I remember myself what I’ve promised. And now seems precisely the right time to answer your letter, as the mild grape-harvest season and the appointed peace of the ending year allow an unclenched mind to withdraw in earnest reflection. The place fits the season. The pleasant beauty of the gardens becomes the gentle breezes of sweet autumn, soothing and nourishing the senses. For here, one can lead the delightful day in conversation and teach, by learned tales, some sacred sayings to the heart’s conscience.

      And just so any indecent onlooker might not interrupt...

    • Lucius Lactantius (Cirta? c. 240–Trier? c. 320 C.E.)
      (pp. 32-32)
      Lucius Lactantius
    • Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (Saint Augustine) (Thagaste, 354–Hippo, 430 C.E.)
      (pp. 33-35)
      Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (Saint Augustine)

      I came to Carthage. Everywhere a medley of shameful loves was clamoring around me. I wasn’t yet capable of loving, and yet I loved to love, and with more hidden desire I hated that I was less desirous. I was looking for what I could love, loving love, and I despised surety and a path free of danger. It was all because I was hungry from within, for more internal foods, for you—my God—though I hungered not with that hunger. No, I was without the desire for incorruptible nourishments. Yet I was not satisfied with them, rather more...

    • Blossius Aemilius Dracontius (Carthage, c. 455–c. 505 C.E.)
      (pp. 36-37)
      Blossius Aemilius Dracontius

      January. The official ensigns of the court proffer sacred honors, exchanging new names in the books of the festival calendar. February. The Sun, already in blows, releases the ices of winter, as buds break in swollen shells on the vine. March. The rights of Mars stir. In ranks, they threaten cruel wars to rouse the troops and shear the young vines with the scythe. April. After chaos recedes, the world’s young fruits rejoice. The times of night are weighed out with the light of day. May. The bejeweled fields show signs of spring through infinite colors; the sweet-smelling turf is...

    • Luxorius (Carthage, sixth century C.E.)
      (pp. 37-38)
  6. FIRST DIWAN: A Book of In-Betweens: Al-Andalus, Sicily, the Maghreb

      (pp. 41-44)

      The conquest of North Africa was difficult for the Arab Muslim invaders, who up until then had experienced fast and overwhelming victories. Tradition has it that Caliph Omar always warned his commanders against invading this part of the world because “Ifrikiya,that means breakup” (a pun on the Arab rootfrq,which means “to separate, to divide”). But religious zeal and desire for gain won out.

      Arab historiography has gathered much detail on “the liberation of Africa and Spain” (fath ifriqiya wa al-andalus), including these main facts:

      In 647, Abdallah Ibn Sa’d, Caliph Othman’s foster brother and the governor of...

    • Anonymous Muwashshaha
      (pp. 45-46)
    • Some Kharjas
      (pp. 46-49)
    • Ibn Hani al-Andalusi (Seville, c. 934–Barqa, Libya, 973)
      (pp. 49-51)
      Ibn Hani al-Andalusi
    • Ibn Darradj al-Qastalli (958–1030)
      (pp. 52-55)
      Ibn Darradj al-Qastalli
    • Abu Amir Ibn Shuhayd (Córdoba, 992–1035)
      (pp. 55-58)
      Abu Amir Ibn Shuhayd
    • Yusuf Ibn Harun al-Ramadi (d. c. 1022)
      (pp. 58-60)
      Yusuf Ibn Harun al-Ramadi
    • Yosef Ibn Abitur (mid-tenth century–c. 1012)
      (pp. 60-63)
      Yosef Ibn Abitur
    • Hafsa bint Hamdun (Wadi al-Hijara, now Guadalajara, tenth century)
      (pp. 64-65)
      Hafsa bint Hamdun
    • Samuel Ha-Levi Ibn Nagrella, called ha-Nagid, “the Prince” (Merida, 993–Granada, 1055)
      (pp. 65-67)
      Samuel Ha-Levi Ibn Nagrella, called ha-Nagid, “the Prince”
    • Ibn Hazm (Córdoba, 994–Niebla, 1064)
      (pp. 67-70)
      Ibn Hazm
    • Wallada bint al-Mustakfi (Córdoba, 994–1091)
      (pp. 70-71)
      Wallada bint al-Mustakfi
    • Ibn Rashiq al-Qayrawani (also al-Masili) (Masila, Algeria, c. 1000–Mazara, Sicily, c. 1064)
      (pp. 71-74)
      Ibn Rashiq al-Qayrawani (also al-Masili)
    • Ibn Zaydun (Córdoba, 1003–1071)
      (pp. 74-76)
      Ibn Zaydun
    • Salomon Ibn Gabirol (Malaga, c. 1020–Valencia, c. 1058)
      (pp. 77-80)
      Salomon Ibn Gabirol
    • Al Mu‘tamid Ibn Abbad (Seville, 1040–Aghmat, 1095)
      (pp. 80-82)
      Al Mu‘tamid Ibn Abbad
    • Ibn Hamdis (Noto, Sicily, 1056–Majorca, 1133)
      (pp. 82-84)
      Ibn Hamdis
    • Ibn Labbana (Benissa, mid-eleventh century–Majorca, 1113)
      (pp. 85-87)
      Ibn Labbana
    • Moses Ibn Ezra (Granada, c. 1058–c. 1135)
      (pp. 87-88)
      Moses Ibn Ezra
    • Al-A’ma al-Tutili (b. Tudela, c. late eleventh century–d. 1126)
      (pp. 88-90)
      Al-A’ma al-Tutili
    • Ibn Khafadja (Alcita, province of Valencia, 1058–1138)
      (pp. 90-91)
      Ibn Khafadja
    • Yehuda Halevi, the Cantor of Zion (Toledo, 1075–Cairo, 1141)
      (pp. 91-93)
      Yehuda Halevi, the Cantor of Zion
    • Ibn Quzman (Córdoba, 1078–1160)
      (pp. 93-95)
      Ibn Quzman
    • Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089–1164)
      (pp. 96-96)
      Abraham Ibn Ezra
    • Abu Madyan Shu’ayb (Sidi Boumedienne) (Cantillana, 1126–Tlemcen, 1198)
      (pp. 96-97)
      Abu Madyan Shu’ayb (Sidi Boumedienne)
    • Hafsa bint al-Hajj Arrakuniyya (Granada, 1135 – Marrakech, 1190)
      (pp. 97-99)
      Hafsa bint al-Hajj Arrakuniyya
    • Ibn Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akhbar (Murcia, 1165 – Damascus, 1240)
      (pp. 99-100)
      Ibn Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akhbar
    • Abi Sharif al-Rundi (Seville, 1204 – Ceuta, 1285)
      (pp. 100-102)
      Abi Sharif al-Rundi
    • Ibn Said al-Maghribi (Alcalá la Real, 1213 – Tunis, 1274)
      (pp. 102-103)
      Ibn Said al-Maghribi
    • Abu al-Hassan al-Shushtari (Guadix, 1213 – Damietta, 1269)
      (pp. 104-106)
      Abu al-Hassan al-Shushtari
    • Abraham Abulafia (Saragossa, 1240 – Comino, c. 1291)
      (pp. 106-111)
      Abraham Abulafia

      ThisBook of Witnessis the fourth book of Raziel’s explanations . . . until this year he had not composed a book which might be called “prophecy” . . . and in that good year the Name awoke him to go to great Rome He commanded him in Barcelona in the year “These” and five thousand [1280] . . . in going he passed through Trani and was taken captive by goyim because of slanders the Jews had laid against him but a miracle was done him YHVH aided him and he was delivered . . . went through...

    • Ibn Zamrak (Granada, 1333 – 1393)
      (pp. 112-114)
      Ibn Zamrak

      (pp. 117-119)

      What do we mean byoral tradition?Many researchers and scholars tend to cast the question of orality in some absolute or, perhaps, dialectical opposition to writing. Thereby, however, they situate themselves and the area under investigation in a classically Eurocentric dichotomy of Tradition versus Modernity, and its multiple variations based on specific concrete cases: Barbarity versus Civilization, country versus city, the urban versus the rural, and so on. Through this reductive procedure they keep themselves from apprehending the question’s multidimensional subtleties.

      To begin with, one has to lift the ambiguity of the termtradition,which, though indeed pointing back...

    • Kabyle Origin Tale: “The World Tree and the Image of the Universe”
      (pp. 120-120)

      The Kabyles’ conception of the world is the following: The entire universe rests on the horns of a giant bull. And if he ever moved, the universe would immediately collapse. The earth itself is not a sole entity; it is composed of seven strata of earth superimposed one on the other. And beyond that, the Seven Heavens stretch out above. Humans live on the fifth stratum, counting from the bottom. Between heaven and earth, there are two more worlds. Beyond lies the nothingness from which everything was created.

      On the lowest strata live the tinytidjal.These are minuscule creatures...

    • from Sirat Banu Hilal (I)
      (pp. 121-126)

      Sultan Bou Ali’s wife dies, leaving him with three children: Zazia, Hassan, and Fakrun. He now marries Chiha, the daughter of the emir Rizg and sister of Bouzid, who gives him three children: Yahia, Yunes, and Maraï.

      At the death of Sultan Bou Ali, the Hilali consult one another to determine his successor, for Hassan, the oldest of the male children, was so taciturn that he was believed to be mute.

      The old sage man of the tribe told them:

      “Noble assembly, before giving up all hope for him, make him walk with bare feet outside the beaten path among...

    • Four Tamachek’ Fables
      (pp. 126-128)

      A greyhound found a bone and started to gnaw it.

      The bone said to him: I’m pretty tough.

      To which the hound responded: Don’t worry, I got all the time and nothing else to do.

      A lion, a panther, a tazourit,* and a jackal were friends. One day when they were hunting together they found a ewe, which they killed. The lion took the floor and asked: “Which one among us has to share out this meat?” It was suggested that it should be the job of the jackal, the smallest one among them.

      So the jackal did as suggested,...

    • Kabylian Song on the Expedition of 1856
      (pp. 129-129)
    • Tuareg Proverbs from the Ahaggar
      (pp. 130-132)
  8. SECOND DIWAN: Al Adab: The Invention of Prose

      (pp. 135-137)

      The concept ofal adabsends us back not directly to literature but rather to savoir vivre—good manners, rules of etiquette. Themuaddabis “l’honnête homme,” the gentleman, the honest, well-educated burgher who knows how to behave in society with his polite and polished manners, his dress, knowledge, and so forth. The term’s closeness to matters of culture and education explains howadabcame to refer to a large literary production whose aim was to forge a cultivated being. It is under the Abbasid Dynasty in Baghdad that the adab will develop as both a rule of conduct and...

    • Ibn Sharaf al-Qayrawani (Kairouan, c. 1000–Seville, 1067)
      (pp. 137-139)
      Ibn Sharaf al-Qayrawani

      As regards abd-Rabbu al-Qortobi [i.e., from Córdoba], though he lives far away, his poetry has reached us in its purest and most modern form, telling us about his sincere repentance, his Marwanid panegyrics, and his Abbasid satire. He is, in all this, a brave knight and a fine blade, as he also shows in his poetry a wide range of knowledge and great capacity for comprehension—writing genuine poetry and leaving a real jewel for his contemporaries and successors to wonder at and appreciate!

      As for Ibn Hani Muhammad—al-Andalusi by birth but al-Qayrawani [related to al Qayrawan / Kairouan,...

    • Ibn Rashiq al-Qayrawani (also al-Masili) (Masila, Algeria, c. 1000–Mazara, Sicily, 1064)
      (pp. 139-143)
      Ibn Rashiq al-Qayrawani (also al-Masili)

      Any poet—even if he is a laureate, well-versed, brilliant, and in the vanguard—must have found himself in a situation like this one: either a small difficulty, or the absence of inspiration, or the emergence of an unusual mood at that very moment. Al-Farazdaq, a gifted poet in his time, used to say: “I’d rather have a tooth extracted than write one verse of poetry.” If that state perdures, the poet is said to be like the hen that cannot lay eggs anymore, or like the well digger who finds a rocky floor and cannot dig any farther, or...

    • Al-Bakri (Huelva, 1014–Córdoba, 1094)
      (pp. 143-147)

      Zawila is like the town of Ajdabiya. It is a town without walls and is situated in the midst of the desert. It is the first point of the land of the Sudan. It has a cathedral mosque, a bath, and markets. Caravans meet there from all directions, and from there the ways of those setting out radiate. There are palm groves and cultivated areas which are irrigated by means of camels.

      When ‘Amr conquered Barqa he sent ‘Uqba b. Nafi’, who marched until he arrived at Zawila, and thus all the country between Barqa and Zawila came under the...

    • Abu Hamid al-Gharnati (Granada, 1080–Damascus, 1169)
      (pp. 147-149)
      Abu Hamid al-Gharnati

      It was erected by Du’l-Karnayn—blessings be upon him!—and rose to more than three hundred cubits in height. It was constructed using cut stone and had a square base. On top of the square minaret, there was an octagonal minaret made out of bricks, and on top of the latter, a round minaret built with cut stone, each stone weighing more than two hundredmann. This minaret was topped by a mirror made of Chinese iron, which was seven cubits in size. One could see everything in it that traveled over the sea coming from all the lands of...

    • Ibn Baja (Avempace) (Saragossa, 1085–Fez, 1138)
      (pp. 149-152)
      Ibn Baja (Avempace)

      Some men, as we stated previously, are merely concerned with their corporeal form; they are the base. Others occupy themselves only with their particular spiritual form; they are the high-minded and the noble. Just as the basest among the men concerned with their corporeal form would be the one who disregards his spiritual form for the sake of the corporeal and does not pay any attention to the former, so the one who possesses nobility in the highest degree would be the one who disregards his corporeal form and does not pay any attention to it. However, the one who...

    • Al-Idrisi (Ceuta, 1099–Sicily, c. 1166)
      (pp. 152-155)

      As Roger [II of Sicily]’s domains expanded he wished to learn more about them and other countries by seeking the knowledge contained in the books composed about this science, such as al-Mas’udi’sBook of Marvelsand the books of Abu Nasr Sa’id al-Jayhani, Abu ‘l-Qasim ‘Ubayd Allah b. Khurradadhbih, Ahmad b. ‘Umar al-’Udhri, Abu ‘l-Qasim Muhammad al-Hawqali al-Baghdadi, Khanakh b. Khaqan al-Kaymaki, Musa b. Qasim al-Qardi, Ahmad b. Ya’qub known as al-Ya’qubi, Ishaq b. al-Hasan al-Munajjim, Qudama al-Basri, Claudius Ptolemy (Balalmayus al-Aqlawdi), and Orosius of Antioch (Urusiyus al-Antaki). But he did not find what he wanted expounded in detail in...

    • Ibn Tufayl (Cadiz, c. 1105–Marrakech, 1185)
      (pp. 155-159)
      Ibn Tufayl

      Our forefathers, of blessed memory, tell of a certain equatorial island, lying off the coast of India, where human beings come into being without father or mother. This is possible, they say, because, of all places on earth, that island has the most tempered climate. And because a supernal light streams down on it, it is the most perfectly adapted to accept the human form. This runs counter to the views of most ordinary philosophers and even the greatest natural scientists. They believe the most temperate region of the inhabited world to be the fourth zone, and if they say...

    • Musa Ibn Maimon, called Maimonides (Córdoba, 1138–Fostat, 1204)
      (pp. 160-162)
      Musa Ibn Maimon, called Maimonides

      Heart[leb] is an equivocal term. It is a term denoting the heart; I mean the part of the body in which resides the principle of life of every being endowed with a heart. Thus:And thrust them in the heart of Absalom. And inasmuch as this part is in the middle of the body, the term is used figuratively to designate the middle of every thing. Thus:Unto the heart of heaven; The heart of fire. It is also a term denoting thought. Thus:Went not my heart, which means that thou wast present in my thought when this...

    • Ibn Jubayr (Valencia, 1145–Egypt, 1217)
      (pp. 163-166)
      Ibn Jubayr

      On the morning of the first day of this month we observed before us the Mountain of Fire, the famous volcano of Sicily, and rejoiced thereat. May God Most High reward us for what we have endured and end our days with the best and most magnificent of His favors. May He animate us in all circumstances to gratitude for what He has bestowed on us. A favorable wind then moved us from that place, but on the evening of Saturday the second of the month its force increased and drove the ship with such speed that in but an...

    • Ibn Battuta (Tangier, 1304–Marrakech, 1369)
      (pp. 167-171)
      Ibn Battuta

      I left Tangier, my birthplace, on Thursday, 2 Rajab 725 [June 14, 1325], being at that time twenty-two years of age, with the intention of making the pilgrimage to the Holy House at Mecca and the tomb of the Prophet at Medina.

      I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the way with friendly intercourse and no party of travelers with whom to associate myself. Swayed by an overmastering impulse within me and a long-cherished desire to visit those glorious sanctuaries, I resolved to quit all my friends and tear myself away from my home. As my parents were...

    • Ibn Khaldun (Tunis, 1332–Cairo, 1406)
      (pp. 171-175)
      Ibn Khaldun

      Poetry in the Arabic language is remarkable in its manner and powerful in its way. It is speech that is divided into cola having the same meter and held together by the last letter of each colon. Each of those cola is called a verse. The last letter, which all the verses of a poem have in common, is called the rhyme letter. The whole complex is called a poem. Each verse, with its combinations of words, is by itself a meaningful unit. In a way, it is a statement by itself and independent of what precedes and what follows....

    • Sheikh Nefzaoui (Nefzaoua, southern Tunisia–c. 1434)
      (pp. 176-179)
      Sheikh Nefzaoui
    • Al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi (Leo Africanus) (Granada, c. 1488–1554)
      (pp. 179-182)
      Al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi (Leo Africanus)

      In the Arabian tongue, Africa is calledIfrikiya, from the wordFaraka, which in the language of that country means “to divide.” There are two explanations of why it is called thus: The first suggests that it refers to the fact that this part of the world is divided from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea and from Asia by the Nile. The second explanation claims that the nameAfricais derived from one Ifricus, the king of Arabia Felix, said to have been the first who had ever inhabited these parts. This Ifricus waged war against the king of Assyria,...


      (pp. 185-189)

      From early on—and parallel to a legal communal practice—an individual mystical stance, Sufism, arose to unsettle and deepen matters of faith and the vision of the sacred in Islam. Sufism (Tasawwufin Arabic) was not born of the meetings with Christianity or Buddhism after the Arab conquest. It is a mysticism whose essential source remains the Qur’anic revelation and the imitation in all circumstances of the “perfect man,” that is the Prophet Muhammad, who is considered the first link in the chain (silsila) of Sufi initiates.

      The fundamental concept of Sufism iswalaya, closeness to (or approaching, friendship...

    • Abu Madyan Shu’ayb (Sidi Boumedienne) (Cantillana, 1126–Tlemcen, 1198)
      (pp. 189-192)
      Abu Madyan Shu’ayb (Sidi Boumedienne)
    • Abdeslam Ibn Mashish Alami (Beni Aross region, near Tangier, 1163–1228)
      (pp. 192-195)
      Abdeslam Ibn Mashish Alami
    • Ibn Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akhbar (Murcia, 1165 – Damascus, 1240)
      (pp. 195-198)
      Ibn Arabi, al-Sheikh al-Akhbar
    • Abu al-Hassan al-Shushtari (Guadix, 1213 – Damietta, 1269)
      (pp. 199-200)
      Abu al-Hassan al-Shushtari
    • Othman Ibn Yahya el Sherki (Sidi Bahlul Sherki) (Tétouan region, seventeenth century)
      (pp. 200-204)
      Othman Ibn Yahya el Sherki (Sidi Bahlul Sherki)
    • Ahmed Ibn ‘Ajiba (Tétouan region, 1747–1809)
      (pp. 204-206)
      Ahmed Ibn ‘Ajiba
    • Mystical Poetry from Djurdjura
      (pp. 207-208)
    • Two Shawia Amulets
      (pp. 209-210)
  10. THIRD DIWAN: The Long Sleep and the Slow Awakening

      (pp. 213-215)

      The long period of North African cultural slumber from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century is marked by a stagnation of the literary genres that had shone brightly in previous centuries. With the fall of Granada in 1492 and the ensuing Spanish and Portuguese threats, the Maghreb starts to fold back upon itself. Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli will call upon the Turks to help contain and repel the Christian aggressors. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, except for Morocco, the whole northern part of the Maghreb becomes theoretically a part of the Ottoman Empire, though most of Algeria and...

    • Sidi Abderrahman el Mejdub (Tit Mlil, early sixteenth century–Merdacha, Jebel Aouf, 1568)
      (pp. 215-218)
      Sidi Abderrahman el Mejdub
    • Sidi Lakhdar Ben Khlouf (Mostaganem region, sixteenth–seventeenth century)
      (pp. 218-220)
      Sidi Lakhdar Ben Khlouf
    • Abdelaziz al-Maghraoui (Tafilalet, 1533–1593/1605)
      (pp. 221-223)
      Abdelaziz al-Maghraoui
    • Mawlay Zidan Abu Maali (d. Marrakech, 1627)
      (pp. 223-223)
      Mawlay Zidan Abu Maali
    • Al-Maqqari (Tlemcen, c. 1591–Cairo, 1632)
      (pp. 224-225)

      “Among them was Abu Ishaq al-Sahili, known as al-Tuwayjin or al-Tuwayjan, the celebrated scholar, the upright man for whom thanks are given, the renowned poet, a native of Granada from a family of rectitude, wealth, and trust. His father was theamin, the head, of the perfumers’ guild in Granada. As well as being the amin he was a scholar and lawyer, proficient and versatile. He was well versed in the law of inheritance (fara’id).

      “This Abu Ishaq was in his youth a notary in the lawyers’ street of Granada. He departed from al-Andalus for the East and made the...

    • Al-Yusi (Middle Atlas, 1631–1691)
      (pp. 226-227)

      In spring, given that it is a moderate season, the forces don’t accumulate, nor can foods hurt, constrained as they are by the season. There is thus no risk in being very active, physically and sexually. Bloodletting can be performed on a serene, quiet, gratifying day. On that day one will avoid worry, annoyance, any painful experience, too much thought, bookish study, or sexual activity. Long nights, fasting, and diverse exhaustions should be kept for a full day, when there is neither hunger nor satiety. . . .

      During summer, given its burning and dry nature, one should abstain from...

    • Ahmed Ben Triki (Ben Zengli) (Tlemcen, c. 1650–c. 1750)
      (pp. 227-229)
      Ahmed Ben Triki (Ben Zengli)
    • Sid al Hadj Aissa (Tlemcen, 1668–Laghouat, 1737)
      (pp. 229-230)
      Sid al Hadj Aissa
    • Al-Hani Ben Guenoun (Mascara, 1761–1864)
      (pp. 230-232)
      Al-Hani Ben Guenoun
    • Sidi Mohammed Ben Msaieb (d. Tlemcen, 1768)
      (pp. 232-234)
      Sidi Mohammed Ben Msaieb
    • Mohammed ben Sliman (d. Fez, 1792)
      (pp. 234-235)
      Mohammed ben Sliman
    • Boumediene Ben Sahla (Tlemcen, late eighteenth–early nineteenth century)
      (pp. 235-237)
      Boumediene Ben Sahla
    • Mostefa Ben Brahim (Safa) (Boudjebha, Sidi Bel Abbès province, 1800–1867)
      (pp. 237-239)
      Mostefa Ben Brahim (Safa)
    • Mohammed Belkheir (El Bayadh, south of Oran, 1835–1905)
      (pp. 239-241)
      Mohammed Belkheir
    • Si Mohand (Icheraiouen, At Yirraten, c. 1840–Lhammam-Michelet, 1906)
      (pp. 241-244)
      Si Mohand
    • Mohamed Ibn Seghir Benguitoun (Sidi Khaled, c. 1843–1907)
      (pp. 244-247)
      Mohamed Ibn Seghir Benguitoun
    • Sheikh Smati (Ouled Djellal, near Biskra, 1862–1917)
      (pp. 247-248)
      Sheikh Smati
    • Mohamed Ben Sghir (Tlemcen, late nineteenth century)
      (pp. 249-250)
      Mohamed Ben Sghir
    • Abdallah Ben Keriou (Laghouat, 1869–1921)
      (pp. 250-251)
      Abdallah Ben Keriou
    • Hadda (Dra Valley, southern Morocco, late twentieth century)
      (pp. 251-254)

      (pp. 257-259)

      An abstract quest for meaning, Arab calligraphy is a meditation on the sign, on Arabic writing, the vehicle of the divine message. It is also an aesthetic form that enters the domain of abstraction. Islam is said to reject all forms of the figural, with representational imagery supposedly proscribed. Indeed, that is what one has to conclude after examining Islamic art, but in fact this is not a doctrinal point. The relationship with representation remains controversial. Islam developed in a beduin culture that had very few image-based representations. On the other hand, this culture highly admired rhetoric, song, and poetic...

    • Archaic Kufic Script
      (pp. 259-259)
    • Polychrome Maghrebian Script
      (pp. 260-260)
    • Maghrebian Script
      (pp. 261-261)
    • Maghrebian Cursive Script
      (pp. 262-262)
    • Andalusian Cursive Script
      (pp. 263-263)
    • Al-Qandusi
      (pp. 264-265)
    • Maghrebian Script: The Two Letters Lam-Alif
      (pp. 266-266)
    • Maghrebian Mujawhar Script
      (pp. 266-266)
  12. FOURTH DIWAN: Resistance and Road to Independence

      (pp. 269-270)

      At the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Maghreb seems apart from the “new world” arising in Europe. The region is configured into several autonomous states even though Morocco does not pledge allegiance to the Ottoman sultans. These countries are united by a common language and their Arab-Andalusian heritage. The Islamic brotherhoods played an important role in structuring the social body and as ramparts against colonial intrusion. Centers such as the al-Karaouine Mosque, the university in Fez and the Zitouna Mosque in Tunis continued to train ulamas, Muslim scholars of religion and law.


    • Emir Abd El Kader (Mascara, 1808–Damascus, 1883)
      (pp. 271-274)
      Emir Abd El Kader
    • Mohammed Ben Brahim Assarraj (Marrakech, 1897–1955)
      (pp. 274-276)
      Mohammed Ben Brahim Assarraj
    • Tahar Haddad (Tunis, 1899–1935)
      (pp. 277-280)
      Tahar Haddad

      Woman is the mother of all mankind; she carries the child inside her and in her arms. It is from her that he gets the character that will manifest itself later on in life. She suckles the child at her breast, nourishing him with her blood and soul. She is a faithful companion and a wife who fills a gap, and takes away her husband’s loneliness. She sacrifices her health and comfort to satisfy her husband’s needs, helps him overcome obstacles, and showers him with love to ease all hardships and sorrows. She infuses him with life and rejuvenates him....

    • Jean El Mouhoub Amrouche (Ighil Ali, 1906–Paris, 1962)
      (pp. 280-282)
      Jean El Mouhoub Amrouche
    • Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi (Tozeur, 1909–Tunis, 1934)
      (pp. 282-283)
      Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi
    • Mouloud Feraoun (Tizi Hibel, 1913–Algiers, 1962)
      (pp. 284-287)
      Mouloud Feraoun

      It is a month now that I haven’t opened this notebook, in which, for the past three years, I have been in the habit of consigning, of writing down, my fears and feelings of helplessness and confusion, or my pain and anger. What’s the point of restating these same things in a different form one more time? During any given month of war, what else can have happened than that which will have happened during any other month? I live here as if outside the world, overwhelmed: far from our small villages, the echoes of which no longer reach me;...

    • Emmanuel Roblès (Oran, 1914–Boulogne-Billancourt, 1995)
      (pp. 287-289)
      Emmanuel Roblès
    • Edmond Amram El-Maleh (Safi, 1917–Rabat, 2010)
      (pp. 289-293)
      Edmond Amram El-Maleh

      Isso Imzoghen! He returned home, as every year, to resume the interrupted reading of a great book, so clearly did things speak to him, humming with infinite voices, resonant pathway of his life. The mere sound of his own name, which he enjoyed repeating aloud in deepest solitude, sent up a gusher of luminous landscapes from his native city, knotted into his own memory-engorged flesh. This time again, as with each return, something was ripening in him. Within himself he heard the rustling of a slow meditation, like a silkworm—so he imagined—spinning in its cocoon. He could already...

    • Mouloud Mammeri (Taourirt Mimoune, Kabylia, 1917–Aïn Defla, 1989)
      (pp. 293-295)
      Mouloud Mammeri
    • Mostefa Lacheraf (Sidi Aïssa, 1917–Algiers, 2007)
      (pp. 295-297)
      Mostefa Lacheraf

      Country of long misery that comes from the same invisible assault charging space all the way to the summit. Here it is now like a serpent of fauve sand and stones: it walks with an unheard screeching, in a song of eternity wherein the rumors of men and beast mix with the muted latencies of plants and water.

      Lizards and caterpillars, artemisia flowers, vivacious asphodels and the hoofs of the herd on the mat silex, and the distraught wind that weaves and reweaves. Life moves stealthily in a soft reptation of down, of animal silks, of mica, of tender avalanche...

    • Mohammed Dib (Tlemcen, 1920–La Celle-Saint-Cloud, 2003)
      (pp. 297-302)
      Mohammed Dib
    • Bachir Hadj Ali (Algiers, 1920–1991)
      (pp. 302-304)
      Bachir Hadj Ali
    • Jean Pélégri (Rovigo, 1920–Paris, 2003)
      (pp. 304-306)
      Pélégri Jean

      It was then, in the days that followed—or perhaps it was that very evening (he no longer remembered very clearly)—that Slimane had found that which he had been missing, the beginning of History, or rather, above all, the way to tell it to other people. The means.The idea.That which at once tells history and explains it—because until then, it could be said, it had simply been walking around within him. Okay, for a long time, even—but without speaking to him exactly (like someone who would occasionally see, on the farm, and from afar, another...

    • Nourredine Aba (Aïn oulmene, 1921–Paris, 1996)
      (pp. 307-309)
      Nourredine Aba
    • Mohammed Al-Habib El-Forkani (Tahannaout, 1922–Rabat, 2008)
      (pp. 309-310)
      Mohammed Al-Habib El-Forkani
    • Frantz Fanon (Fort-de-France, 1925–Bethesda, Maryland, 1961)
      (pp. 311-315)
      Frantz Fanon

      It is clear therefore that the way the cultural problem is posed in certain colonized countries can lead to serious ambiguities. Colonialism’s insistence that “niggers” have no culture, and Arabs are by nature barbaric, inevitably leads to a glorification of cultural phenomena that become continental instead of national, and singularly racialized. In Africa, the reasoning of the intellectual is Black-African or Arab-Islamic. It is not specifically national. Culture is increasingly cut off from reality. It finds safe haven in a refuge of smoldering emotions and has difficulty cutting a straightforward path that would, nevertheless, be the only one likely to...

    • Jean Sénac (Béni Saf, 1926–Algiers, 1973)
      (pp. 315-319)
      Jean Sénac
    • Malek Haddad (Constantine, 1927–Algiers, 1978)
      (pp. 319-321)
      Malek Haddad
    • Kateb Yacine (Guelma, 1929–Grenoble, 1989)
      (pp. 321-326)
      Kateb Yacine
    • Ismaël Aït Djaafar (Algiers, 1929–1995)
      (pp. 327-329)
      Ismaël Aït Djaafar
    • Anna Gréki (Batna, 1931–Algiers, 1966)
      (pp. 329-333)
      Anna Gréki
    • Henri Kréa (Algiers, 1933–Paris, 2000)
      (pp. 333-336)
      Henri Kréa

    • More Kabylian Origin Stories
      (pp. 339-340)

      When God drove Satan out of Heaven, the latter returned to earth.

      One day he stole a haystack from some humans. The criminal angel took his plunder at night and flew into the air. In his mad rush, he dropped armfuls of hay, which caught fire in the sky.

      This is what we now call shooting stars.

      An old sorceress who wanted to cast spells made the lunar star fall into a big dish of couscous, causing the first eclipse in human history. This phenomenon created a great panic among men.

      As she wanted to push the limits of her...

    • The Magic Grain: A Tale
      (pp. 341-345)

      May my tale be beautiful and unfold like a long thread!

      Long ago, in a village, there were seven brothers. They got together and said:

      “This time, if our mother gives birth to a boy, we will go into exile. We’ll run away.”

      The day their mother was to deliver, they left the village behind and waited, seated in a circle.

      Settoute, the old witch, came up to them and said:

      “Welcome to your brother!”

      They answered her:

      “Damn you!”

      And they set forth immediately.

      Settoute had lied. She wanted the seven brothers to go into exile. The family was...

    • Kabyle Proverbs
      (pp. 345-346)
    • Songs
      (pp. 347-348)
    • from The Adventures of the Jew
      (pp. 348-349)

      One day a cry rose from the wedding house. Everything was ready, the guests were seated, the hors d’oeuvres were piled up in the kitchen, and the orchestra was waiting. Everybody’s waiting for the bride. And where’s the bride? Why, there she is! She’s climbing up the stairs, she’s starting to come through the door. My God, what agony! The door’s a little low, while she, the bride, the lovely woman, is too large, she’s taller than the door. How will she get inside? What can we do for her? We waste ourselves in huddles and discussions. This is a...

    • More Riddles And Proverbs
      (pp. 350-351)
    • Satirical Nomad Poem
      (pp. 351-351)
    • Saharan Gharbi/Western-Style Anonymous Nomad Songs
      (pp. 351-353)
    • from Sirat Banu Hilal (II)
      (pp. 353-358)

      We are still with you in this popular tale that in the vulgar tongue describes the stages of the Banu Hilal’s wanderings.

      My brothers, after Bou Zid’s lament about himself, his health, and his past and present situation, our tale now returns to Sada, the daughter of Znati Khlifa.

      Time went by and became long for Sada as she obtained nothing from Meri, and she told herself: “How much longer will he be jailed close to me like a bird, while I suffer bitterly! I have to tell the Banu Hilal how to war with my father; if Znati Khlifa...

  14. FIFTH DIWAN: “Make It New”: The Invention of Independence I

      (pp. 361-365)

      The countries of North Africa came into their independence in different contexts and after vastly different experiences and struggles—something that had lasting repercussions, including differently shaped futures for each of them. The often violent upheavals of indigenous societies caused by colonialism, although indisputable, varied depending on local circumstances. The Algerian case could be seen as exemplary in this regard. Indeed, the country was colonized in the middle of the nineteenth century after a long and arduous conquest opposed by a very spirited and persistent resistance. Several different politics of integration were applied to appropriate this territory and include it...

    • LIBYA

      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 365-366)

        Contemporary Libyan literature is rich and shows signs of great fecundity. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, what came to be known as the Arab Renaissance—al-Nadha—emanating from the Mashreq, only reached Libya late and without exerting a major influence. But autochthonous oral traditions, always present, came to a new and powerful flowering, spurred on by the sufferings and injustice visited upon the Libyan people by Italian colonialism. Core figures in this resistance and renewal movement were Sulaiman al-Barouni, the publisher of theMuslim Lionnewspaper, and the prominent poet Rafiq Al-Mihadawi, whom the Libyans considered highly,...

      • Muhammad al-Faituri (b. al - Janira, Sudan, 1930)
        (pp. 366-367)
        Muhammad al-Faituri
      • Ibrahim al-Koni (b. Fezzan region, 1948)
        (pp. 367-372)
        Ibrahim al-Koni

        WITH THIS BLOODY ESCAPADE commenced my break with the herds. Thereafter my animal kin shunned me and braved the heights to cross over into unknown realms.

        The gazelles migrated to the north, crossing lofty, sand-strewn peaks to cast themselves into the mighty sea of sand. The Barbary sheep clans migrated to the south, scaling the circle of southern mountains and crossing into the trackless deserts that lead to mountain chains with surging peaks, about which the tribes recount fantastic legends as part of epics handed down from their forefathers. I first followed the gazelles’ trail in their journey northward but...

      • Ashur Etwebi (b. Tripoli, 1952)
        (pp. 373-376)
        Ashur Etwebi
      • Faraj Bou al-Isha (b. 1956)
        (pp. 377-378)
        Faraj Bou al-Isha
      • Fatima Mahmoud (b. Tripoli, mid-twentieth century)
        (pp. 378-382)
        Fatima Mahmoud
      • Laila Neihoum (b. Benghazi, 1961)
        (pp. 383-384)
        Laila Neihoum
      • Khaled Mattawa (b. Benghazi, 1964)
        (pp. 384-388)
        Khaled Mattawa

      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 388-390)

        The years that preceded Tunisia’s independence were essentially given over to mobilization for nationalist causes, and thus its literary production of the 1950s was neither very innovative nor critically oriented. The order of the day was political engagement with the people toward independence.

        However, the massive push for schooling in both Arabic and French, set in motion by the regime of President Habib Bourguiba, led to the flowering of a bilingual generation. Writers started experimenting with innovative techniques such as using dialectical Arabic—at least for dialogues within prose compositions or for modern poems in the vernacular that insist on...

      • Claude Benady (Tunis, 1922–Boulogne, Hauts-de-Seine, 2000)
        (pp. 390-392)
        Claude Benady
      • Al-Munsif al-Wahaybi (b. Kairouan, 1929)
        (pp. 393-394)
        Al-Munsif al-Wahaybi
      • Midani Ben Salah (Nefta, 1929–2006)
        (pp. 395-397)
        Midani Ben Salah
      • Noureddine Sammoud (b. Kelibia, 1932)
        (pp. 397-399)
        Noureddine Sammoud
      • Salah Garmadi (Tunis, 1933–1982)
        (pp. 399-401)
        Salah Garmadi
      • Shams Nadir (Mohamed Aziza) (b. Tunis, 1940)
        (pp. 401-404)
        Shams Nadir (Mohamed Aziza)
      • Abderrazak Sahli (Hammamet, 1941–2009)
        (pp. 405-405)
        Abderrazak Sahli
      • Moncef Ghachem (b. Mahdia, 1946)
        (pp. 405-408)
        Moncef Ghachem
      • Fadhila Chabbi (b. Tozeur, 1946)
        (pp. 408-409)
        Fadhila Chabbi
      • Abdelwahab Meddeb (b. Tunis, 1946)
        (pp. 409-412)
        Abdelwahab Meddeb

        Alphabet, are you not a seed to flower in the monotheistic desert? Calligraphy, might you then be the orphan of meaning, profanation of the tomb containing the hieroglyphic remains and finery of the gods? The Chinese, who have conserved their ancient system of writing, who have allowed it to evolve, demonstrate the extent to which it is possible to avoid this division. Their words are other deserts; they repudiate the memory of voices to better preserve the alliance with the objects they mean to designate.

        To test our conjectures, one need only single out the behavior of an atheist in...

      • Muhammad al-Ghuzzi (b. Kairouan, 1949)
        (pp. 413-415)
        Muhammad al-Ghuzzi
      • Moncef Ouahibi (b. Kairouan, 1949)
        (pp. 416-419)
        Moncef Ouahibi
      • Khaled Najjar (b. Tunis, 1949)
        (pp. 419-422)
        Khaled Najjar
      • Tahar Bekri (b. Gabès, 1951)
        (pp. 422-424)
        Tahar Bekri
      • Amina Said (b. Tunis, 1953)
        (pp. 425-426)
        Amina Said
      • Moncef Mezghanni (b. Sfax, 1954)
        (pp. 427-430)
        Moncef Mezghanni
      • Adam Fet’hi (b. 1957)
        (pp. 430-432)
        Adam Fet’hi
      • Dorra Chammam (b. Tunis, 1965)
        (pp. 433-435)
        Dorra Chammam
      • Amel Moussa (b. Tripoli, 1971)
        (pp. 436-437)
        Amel Moussa
      • Samia Ouederni (b. 1980)
        (pp. 438-439)
        Samia Ouederni

      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 439-440)

        In Mauritania, a country often called “the land of a million poets,” as throughout the Maghreb, though maybe even more so, literature is indistinguishable from song, chant, music—and poetry is thus the core genre, with prose only coming to the fore recently. Until the twentieth century, Mauritanian literature was mostly confined to the geographical space of the different ethnicities, with nomadic Arabo-Berber influences to the north, and African—essentially Peul (Fula) and Soninke—influences to the south of the Senegal River.

        In the north one has to distinguish between classical Arabic-language poetry (shi’r) and popular poetry in the Hassaniya...

      • Oumar Moussa Ba (Senegalese village bordering Mauritania, 1921–1998)
        (pp. 440-442)
        Oumar Moussa Ba
      • Tene Youssouf Gueye (Kaédi, 1928–1988)
        (pp. 443-444)
        Tene Youssouf Gueye
      • Assane Youssouf Diallo (b. 1938)
        (pp. 444-446)
        Assane Youssouf Diallo
      • Djibril Zakaria Sall (b. Rosso, 1939)
        (pp. 447-449)
        Djibril Zakaria Sall
      • Ousmane-Moussa Diagana (Kaédi, 1951–Nouakchott, 2001)
        (pp. 450-450)
        Ousmane-Moussa Diagana
      • Mbarka Mint al-Barra’ (b. al-Madhardhara, 1957)
        (pp. 450-451)
        Mbarka Mint al-Barra’
      • Aïcha Mint Chighaly (b. Kaédi, 1962)
        (pp. 451-453)
        Aïcha Mint Chighaly

      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 453-454)

        In 1976, after the final Spanish military forces left their ex-colony in the Western Sahara but before the referendum by which the old colony could have gained international recognition as an autonomous state (something its people, the Sahrawis, and the United Nations had long been demanding) could be held, Morocco and Mauritania, eager to expand their borders, both sent armies into that vast territory populated by one hundred thousand people. While the UN opposed the occupation, it did nothing to stop it, and the Sahrawi-led Polisario Front could not thwart the Moroccans or the Mauritanians. In little time, thousands of...

      • Bahia Mahmud Awah (b. Auserd, 1960)
        (pp. 455-457)
        Bahia Mahmud Awah
      • Zahra el Hasnaui Ahmed (b. el Aaiún, 1963)
        (pp. 457-460)
        Zahra el Hasnaui Ahmed
      • Mohammed Ebnu (b. Amgala, 1968)
        (pp. 460-462)
        Mohammed Ebnu
      • Chejdan Mahmud Yazid (b. Tindouf, 1972)
        (pp. 462-464)
        Chejdan Mahmud Yazid
      • Limam Boicha (b. Atar, 1973)
        (pp. 464-466)
        Limam Boicha

      (pp. 469-470)

      One could argue that the major constant of the Maghreb over a period of millennia has been continuous movements of people(s): the immigration of whole peoples, small tribes, or even individuals and the emigration of groups and individuals at similar rates—all of these moves sometimes forced by wider historical-political circumstances, at other times by the desire to find economic or other opportunities elsewhere. Obviously, our gathering reflects this nomadic reality throughout its various diwans and books, but it seemed useful for us to present late in the anthology a small section devoted to more or less contemporary moves in...

    • DIASPORA →

      • Mario Scalési (Tunis, 1892 – Palermo, 1922)
        (pp. 471-473)
        Mario Scalési
      • Jacques Berque (Frenda, 1910–Saint-Julien-en-Born, 1995)
        (pp. 473-478)
        Jacques Berque

        Durkheim’s sociology has been the topic of a nasty quarrel apropos of the “parts” it accords to the group and the individual. I will not get involved in it after the lucid developments recently dedicated to this question by G. Gurvitch and G. Davy. But I will yield, so to speak, to the natural inclination of the exploration, namely to thetaqbiltSeksawa of the High Atlas. What can be found, after having looked at the country, its cantons, its villages, its houses, are men who gave shape to all the rest. And among these men a number of great...

      • Jacques Derrida (Algiers, 1930–Paris, 2004)
        (pp. 478-483)
        Jacques Derrida

        . . . So this meeting—which had just opened, as you recall—was an international colloquium. In Louisiana, which is not, as you know, anywhere in France. Generous hospitality. Invited guests? Francophonesbelonging,as we strangely say, to several nations, cultures, and states. And all these problems ofidentity,as we so foolishly say nowadays. Among all the participants, there were two, Abdelkebir Khatibi and myself, who, besides an old friendship, meaning the blessing of so many other things from memory and the heart, also shared a certain destiny. They live in a certain “state” as far as language...

      • Hélène Cixous (b. Oran, 1937)
        (pp. 484-487)
        Hélène Cixous

        But it is not of these letters that I wished to speak. I wished to speak of the letter that I have been (following) as if in a dream ever since I sent it, a morning in April at least twenty years ago, and maybe fifty, ahead of myself, ahead of time, above the waters of the Deluge, which I sent, in the place of my eyes, to see if by chance the land my mother, I mean Algeria, might not have resuscitated, I wished to speak of the letter to which I had spoken one day, as one goes...

      • Hubert Haddad (b. Tunis, 1947)
        (pp. 488-492)
        Hubert Haddad
    • DIASPORA ←

      • Paul Bowles (New York, 1910–Tangier, 1999)
        (pp. 493-496)
        Paul Bowles

        This saint-worship, based on vestiges of an earlier religion, has long been frowned upon by the devout urban Moslems; as early as the midthirties restrictions were placed on its practice. For a time, public manifestations of it were effectively suppressed. There were several reasons why the educated Moslems objected to the brotherhoods. During the periods of the protectorates in Tunisia and Morocco, the colonial administrations did not hesitate to use them for their own political ends, to ensure more complete domination. Also, it has always been felt that visitors who happened to witness the members of a cult in action...

      • Juan Goytisolo (b. Barcelona, 1931)
        (pp. 496-500)
        Juan Goytisolo

        why me, him, and not the others, them?: imperturbably leaning on the battlemented parapet of the esplanade with their binoculars, polaroids, glasses, kodaks, movie cameras, a tame, motley flock paying close attention to the polyglot commentaries of the impeccable official guide: a stereotypic dragoman in a white djellabah and an inverted red flowerpot, possessed of a number and a badge that properly identify him and invest him with learned, benign authority: a patronizing attitude underlined by the condescending gesture with which he points to the perverse souls in that lucrative hell in which you are rotting away: to thatlasciate...

      • Cécile Oumhani (b. Namur, 1952)
        (pp. 501-502)
        Cécile Oumhani

        There was a time when the poet traveled on his quest across the desert. Figure as light as a shadow, devoted to a poem of sand and ashes, he went his way along the ridges of dunes, his eyes streaming with light . . . A shadow drawn with letters like scars on a wounded body, he is the memory of all poems, of the yearning for words that keeps flooding into that silent part of ourselves. Today still on the horizon, the white city dances, promise of the steppe. It dances and whirls, devoted to the curves of the...


      (pp. 505-505)

      This section does not present what are usually understood as oral tradition materials, as those are nearly always considered anonymous (though note Jerome Rothenberg’s strictures against such simplifications in his various anthologies and essays concerning ethnopoetics and oral traditions), while the texts included here are nearly all signed by their authors. However, all—with the exception of Hawad (see p. 529), whose trajectory is more complex—can be assigned to the category of bards and popular tellers of tales. Masters of a revisited orality, they draw their inspiration from the day-to-day lives of working-class people whose spokespersons they are. The...

    • Aissa al Jarmuni al Harkati (Sidi R’ghis, now Oum El Bouaghi, 1885–Aïn Beïda, Oum El Bouaghi province, 1946)
      (pp. 506-509)
      Aissa al Jarmuni al Harkati
    • Qasi Udifella (1898 – 1950)
      (pp. 509-512)
      Qasi Udifella
    • Mririda N’aït Attik (Megdaz, c. 1900 – c. 1930)
      (pp. 513-515)
      Mririda N’aït Attik
    • The Song of the Azria
      (pp. 515-517)
    • Slimane Azem (Kabylia, 1918 – Moissac, France, 1983)
      (pp. 517-518)
      Slimane Azem
    • Cheikha Rimitti (Tessala, 1923 – Paris, 2006)
      (pp. 518-521)
      Cheikha Rimitti
    • kheira (b. Tunisia, c. 1934)
      (pp. 521-523)

      Once upon a time there was a perfume merchant who was married to his cousin. She was dearer than life to him and they lived happily. They were filled with joy and merriment. He called her Lilla al-Nsa, “the mistress of women,” and she called him Sidi al-Rjal, “the master of all men.” They manifested a deep love and mutual devotion which defied description. But their happiness was not complete: in her sleep she would heave a deep sigh of unhappiness. This discomforted the husband and he tried to understand the reason for her uneasiness. He could not remember failing...

    • Mohammed Mrabet (b. Tangier, 1936)
      (pp. 523-528)
      Mohammed Mrabet

      A VERY OLD RIFFIAN who lived in Boubana had four sons. Before he died he divided his land equally among them. The three younger men thought only of selling their share, but Si Mokhtar, the eldest, loved the place where he lived, and did not want to see it change. And so he bought his brothers’ shares from them, and went on living in his father’s house.

      The orchard had all the hundreds of pear trees that his father had planted during his long lifetime in Boubana, and there were six deep wells on the land. In the garden Si...

    • Hawad (b. north of Agadez, 1950)
      (pp. 529-534)
    • Lounis Aït Menguellet (b. Ighil Bouammas, 1950)
      (pp. 535-537)
      Lounis Aït Menguellet
    • Mohammed El Agidi (Morocco, twentieth century)
      (pp. 537-539)
      Mohammed El Agidi
    • Matoub Lounes (Taourirt Moussa, 1956 – Tizi ouzzou, 1998)
      (pp. 539-542)
      Matoub Lounes
  17. FIFTH DIWAN: “Make It New”: The Invention of Independence II


      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 545-547)

        After achieving independence in July 1962, Algeria embarked on a “road to socialism” that gave permission to the army, the only organized force in the country, to take power in the name of the people and the martyrs of the revolution. Progressively—though no official censorship mechanism was set up—the few reading committees of the SNED (National Company for Publishing and Distributing) became more and more timid, no longer daring to promote original or critical works. Despite a large budget and an official stance that claimed to favor the development of the literary and artistic sector, the Ministry of...

      • Mohammed Dib (Tlemcen, 1920 – La Celle-Saint-Cloud, 2003)
        (pp. 547-549)
        Mohammed Dib

        language sovereign secret incompatible submerged in the universal wound let my life be lost there lived there without vindication wound let a thick wall of dark seal and deaf dumb let no medium be able to make it understood speech that hollows out an empty space

        memory exchanged for night

        disguising the night

        a void that is infinitely radiant

        and searches for

        some out of the way forest

        that will strike the morning

        suddenly and blind

        statue of shadow waits for you she waits she does not know she waits suspended in form and time she exists endures only through...

      • Jean Sénac (Béni Saf, 1926 – Algiers, 1973)
        (pp. 549-553)
        Jean Sénac
      • Kateb Yacine (Guelma, 1929 – Grenoble, 1989)
        (pp. 554-558)
        kateb Yacine

        Not once was the return of the Banu Hilal expected. Always, however, they returned to upset the stelae and carry away the dead, jealous of their mystery, unknown and unrecognizable, among the founders.

        Once upon a time they had adored the black stone. Now their idol had left the sanctuary, torn the curtain, and dispersed the priests. Since it had traveled through the great outside, its dark face had reddened, it had drunk the blood and dust of the battlefields, and they could no longer sequester it in a temple: “Will we bury it alive? Does it have to be...

      • Nadia Guendouz (Algiers, 1932 – 1992)
        (pp. 558-562)
        Nadia Guendouz
      • Assia Djebar (b. Cherchell, 1936)
        (pp. 563-568)
        Assia Djebar
      • Malek Alloula (b. Oran, 1937)
        (pp. 569-573)
        Malek Alloula

        Arrayed in the brilliant colors of exoticism and exuding a full-blown yet uncertain sensuality, the Orient, where unfathomable mysteries dwell and cruel and barbaric scenes are staged, has fascinated and disturbed Europe for a long time. It has been its glittering imaginary but also its mirage.

        Orientalism, both pictorial and literary, has made its contribution to the definition of the variegated elements of the sweet dream in which the West has been wallowing for more than four centuries. It has set the stage for the deployment of phantasms.

        There is no phantasm, though, without sex, and in this Orientalism, a...

      • Mourad Bourboune (b. Jijel, 1938)
        (pp. 574-577)
        Mourad Bourboune

        They leave, return, leave each other, find each other again—I go up to the home place—I go down to France and in the caves, the attics, they pile up, fifteen, twenty. All day long they build, rebuild houses for the others, their own always threatens collapse. In the meantime. The construction site, the factory, the assembly line and the lovely life to come, later, and that will have to be lived. In the future. The salary that travels via money order, what remains of it on the counter of the owner of the café-bar-hotel-restaurant-cave. “I’m paying a week...

      • Nabile Farès (b. Collo, 1940)
        (pp. 577-580)
        Nabile Farès
      • Rachid Boudjedra (b. Aïn Beïda, Oum El Bouaghi province, 1941)
        (pp. 580-583)
        Rachid Boudjedra

        So I continued writing away under the spell of this musical sound like an effervescent drug. Sort of painlessness of fascinating images taking hold of my memory with their volubility, their din. Mental landscape apparently established once and for all. Volcanic mass of memories kind of tiresomely collated. Very quickly certain images deteriorated wore out and disappeared. Others came to the surface in the bowl of my pressurized skull like air bubbles bursting through the freezing field of solitude. They overflowed the boundaries of the small room in which I have buried my being, leaving it to die. They opened...

      • Abdelhamid Laghouati (b. Berrouaghia, 1943)
        (pp. 583-587)
        Abdelhamid Laghouati
      • Youcef Sebti (Boudious, 1943–Algiers, 1993)
        (pp. 587-589)
        Youcef Sebti
      • Ismael Abdoun (b. Béchar, 1945)
        (pp. 589-590)
        Ismael Abdoun
      • Rabah Belamri (Bougaa, 1946–Paris, 1995)
        (pp. 590-592)
        Rabah Belamri
      • Habib Tengour (b. Mostaganem, 1947)
        (pp. 593-597)
        Habib Tengour
      • Hamida Chellali (b. Algiers, 1948)
        (pp. 597-601)
        Hamida Chellali

        In the days when things were magical there lived a man of power who, besides many other goods, owned a broken mirror that revealed the truth to him. When he became old, the man wanted to know his end. He questioned the mirror.

        Man: Incoherent mirror, tell me the truth

        Mirror: How can I, I am broken

        Man: Tell me a part of it

        Mirror: A part of the truth is not the truth

        Man: I’ll be satisfied with it

        Mirror: Man of power, what do you want to know that you don’t already know

        Man: I want to know...

      • Hamid Skif (Oran, 1951–2011)
        (pp. 602-604)
        Hamid Skif
      • Hamid Tibouchi (b. Tibane, 1951)
        (pp. 604-609)
        Hamid Tibouchi
      • Mohamed Sehaba (b. Tafraoui, 1952)
        (pp. 610-612)
        Mohamed Sehaba
      • Abdelmadjid Kaouah (b. Aïn-Taya, near Algiers, 1954)
        (pp. 613-615)
        Abdelmadjid Kaouah
      • Tahar Djaout (Azeffoun, 1954–Algiers, 1993)
        (pp. 615-616)
        Tahar Djaout
      • Amin Khan (b. Algiers, 1956)
        (pp. 617-619)
        Amin Khan

        You run on the plains of death without fearing any obstacle black plough soft scents like traces of love on the skin of the beloved you gallop fluid without advancing a step conscience inundated with the smoke of blue herbs you escape from fear and enchantment brushing crimson shores and traps of light languages of love and the distress of meaning and the gold of the dagger thrusts in the burst of the cry and the sob

        you stop breath weak lost body from you to yourself and in the virgin space of golden death by the hourly borders of...

      • Mourad Djebel (b. Annaba, 1967)
        (pp. 620-621)
        Mourad Djebel
      • Mustapha Benfodil (b. Relizane, 1968)
        (pp. 621-623)
        Mustapha Benfodil
      • Al-Mahdi Acherchour (b. Sidi-Aïch, 1973)
        (pp. 623-625)
        Al-Mahdi Acherchour
      • Samira Negrouche (b. Algiers, 1980)
        (pp. 626-628)
        Samira Negrouche

        There are blank pages that run through you as night ends those which a publisher is not expecting and which point towards an imaginary book which you watch grow faint in step with time you prefer to think that it will be forever inside the computer’s dead memory.

        I like to drink coffee with a splash of synthetic cream I like coffee without anything without sugar I only like the misty cloud of dawn which I catch before sleep it slides fills silently the hills’ hollows I like that trickle of cream I ride from breast to nipple.

        She’s served...


      • [Introduction]
        (pp. 629-630)

        The current situation of literature in Morocco—especially in the domain of poetry—seems possessed of a dynamism that contrasts strongly with the marasmus the other Maghrebian countries have fallen into. After the difficult period of the reign of Hassan II, when every expression of free speech was immediately censored, the country seems to have gained a renewed confidence in its live forces and is allowing all voices and directions to express themselves. This becomes understandable if one realizes that Morocco did not suffer as profound and destructive an undermining of its society and culture as its neighbors did, due...

      • Driss Chraïbi (El Jadida, 1926–Drôme, France, 2007)
        (pp. 630-634)
        Driss Chraïbi

        I thank life. It has fulfilled me. Compared to it, everything else is literature, not to say loneliness. At my age—seventy-one already— with peaceful steps I retrace the road already traveled, without any sense of time or space. I turn toward my past. At least I try to. A lady of a certain age confessed to George Bernard Shaw, my regretted confrere from across the Channel, with cheeks reddening, that she was thirty. “Oh good,” replied the sarcastic old gent, “but at what age were you born?” Relatively speaking, he could have asked me the same question. Not that...

      • Mohammed Sebbagh (b. Tétouan, 1929)
        (pp. 634-640)
        Mohammed Sebbagh
      • Mohamed Serghini (b. Fez, 1930)
        (pp. 640-643)
        Mohamed Serghini
      • Abdelkrim Tabbal (b. Chefchaouen, 1931)
        (pp. 643-646)
        Abdelkrim Tabbal
      • Zaghloul Morsy (b. Marrakech, 1933)
        (pp. 647-648)
        Zaghloul Morsy
      • Mohamed Choukri (Aït Chiker, 1935–2003)
        (pp. 648-652)
        Mohamed Choukri

        More pleasure and fantasy. More money, more ways of getting hold of it. I was tired of enjoying myself, and yet I was not satisfied. Fatin walked toward me, white as snow in the blood-red light of the bar. She took one of my notebooks, looked at it, and grinned.

        She muttered something unintelligible and moved away again, disappearing among those who were kicking the air. It was three o’clock in the morning, and I was bored and nervous. Om Kalsoum was singing: “Sleep never made life seem too long, nor long waiting shortened life.”

        A black man appeared, white...

      • Ahmad al-Majjaty (Casablanca, 1936–1995)
        (pp. 652-654)
        Ahmad al-Majjaty
      • Abdelkebir Khatibi (El Jadida, 1938–Rabat, 2009)
        (pp. 654-659)
        Abdelkebir Khatibi
      • Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine (Tafraout, 1941–Rabat, 1995)
        (pp. 659-665)
        Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine
      • Ali Sadki Azayku (Taroudant, 1942 – 2004)
        (pp. 665-668)
        Ali Sadki Azayku
      • Abdellatif Laâbi (b. Fez, 1942)
        (pp. 668-673)
        Abdellatif Laâbi
      • Mostafa Nissabouri (b. Casablanca, 1943)
        (pp. 673-679)
        Mostafa Nissabouri
      • Abdelmajid Benjelloun (b. Fez, 1944)
        (pp. 679-682)
        Abdelmajid Benjelloun
      • Tahar Ben Jelloun (b. Fez, 1944)
        (pp. 682-685)
        Tahar Ben Jelloun

        Seeing a vagina was the main concern of our childhood. Not just any vagina—not a bald, innocent vagina, but a full-grown woman’s vagina. One that had lived and endured, one that had grown tired. The one that haunted our first dreams and first dares. The vagina whose name you speak in a deserted street and outline in the palm of your hand. The one you invoke for insults. The one you dream of making and reinventing. The streets of our neighborhood know it well. The walls have tamed it and the sky has made a place for it. On...

      • Mohamed Sibari (b. Ksar el Kebir, 1945)
        (pp. 685-689)
        Mohamed Sibari
      • Malika El Assimi (b. Marrakech, 1946)
        (pp. 689-692)
        Malika El Assimi
      • Mohammed Bennis (b. Fez, 1948)
        (pp. 692-698)
        Mohammed Bennis

        It is not morning, it is not evening. It is between morning and evening. A bit of morning, a bit of evening. Of the line, I see only the stammer of the clothes. The hand alone, and hanging. It sways with the terraces and their lime. I will smell the scent of the hand maybe, for it is close to the smell of the lime, and behind it I will smell the one who doesn’t sleep in a bed. Nothing but a hand. I pour tea, and the proffered hand proffers the glass for fingers to touch fingers. The ring...

      • Ahmed Lemsyeh (b. Sidi Ismail, 1950)
        (pp. 698-700)
        Ahmed Lemsyeh
      • Rachida Madani (b. Tangier, 1951)
        (pp. 700-704)
        Rachida Madani
      • Mohammed al-Ashaari (b. Moulay idriss Zerhoun, 1951)
        (pp. 704-707)
        Mohammed al-Ashaari
      • Medhi Akhrif (b. Assilah, 1952)
        (pp. 707-711)
        Medhi Akhrif
      • Abdallah Zrika (b. Casablanca, 1953)
        (pp. 711-715)
        Abdallah Zrika
      • Mubarak Wassat (b. Mzinda, Safi region, 1955)
        (pp. 715-717)
        Mubarak Wassat

        The resonance of the metallic muscles of the night, the din of the purulent days, the stray bullets of day and night, the ashes: that is what our mouths also know. I started out one day from that point, which now, rolls toward the neighboring point where a man, hunkered down beggarlike, releases a torrent of insults, seemingly not directed at anyone in particular. Drink a hymn of tears in a broken glass, weep under a balcony from which a woman has withdrawn, my lover of long ago, dance on hot coals, on the melodies of a flute and on...

      • Hassan Najmi (b. Ben Ahmed, 1959)
        (pp. 717-719)
        Hassan Najmi
      • Waafa Lamrani (b. Ksar el Kebir, 1960)
        (pp. 720-723)
        Waafa Lamrani
      • Ahmed Barakat (Casablanca, 1960–1994)
        (pp. 724-726)
        Ahmed Barakat
      • Touria Majdouline (b. Settat, 1960)
        (pp. 727-729)
        Touria Majdouline
      • Ahmed Assid (b. Taourmit, Taroudant province, 1961)
        (pp. 729-732)
        Ahmed Assid
      • Mohamed El Amraoui (b. Fez, 1964)
        (pp. 732-734)
        Mohamed El Amraoui

        To meet infinity in some new sea, under a cliff dug into the night. Cliffs. Winters produced a singular loneliness.


        Neither good nor bad omens, but the coming of what’s unexpected. A nakedness, for the first time, white, advancing

        a dark disturbance in the water.

        Thin fingers trace familiar air.

        Then a knot ties and loosens in the chest and stomach, quick as a drum roll and no matter what it says—

        Sliced stones. Blades.

        Endlessly these lines, spaces and folds of meaning.

        After, long after, on the edge of a cliff, and without bringing the question to...

      • Mohammed Hmoudane (b. Maaziz, 1968)
        (pp. 735-737)
        Mohammed Hmoudane
      • Ouidad Benmoussa (b. Kasr el Kebir, 1969)
        (pp. 738-739)
        Ouidad Benmoussa
      • Omar Berrada (b. Casablanca, 1978)
        (pp. 739-744)
        Omar Berrada

        What if metaphysics was a branch of cinéma fantastique? The playwright, like all artists, seeks the truth — of which there are many. Take a florid Helvetian (St. Gria). The idea that there could be other apples from other gardens, and consequently other towns, made him burst out laughing. His quill split in two and the symbol cymbal screeched. But let’s leave aside that which causes acidity, and begin by turning the page. After all I’d almost prefer that it be fake, if it’s futile: f + utile, beyond the utile. Facetiousness makes fun of function. Remedy: ’pataphysic unction. Ubiquitous e-xcess...

    (pp. 745-756)
    (pp. 757-760)