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Memory for Forgetfulness

Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982

Mahmoud Darwish
Translated, with an Introduction by Ibrahim Muhawi
With a new Foreword by Sinan Antoon
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    Memory for Forgetfulness
    Book Description:

    One of the Arab world's greatest poets uses the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut as the setting for this sequence of prose poems. Mahmoud Darwish vividly recreates the sights and sounds of a city under terrible siege. As fighter jets scream overhead, he explores the war-ravaged streets of Beirut on August 6th (Hiroshima Day).Memory for Forgetfulnessis an extended reflection on the invasion and its political and historical dimensions. It is also a journey into personal and collective memory. What is the meaning of exile? What is the role of the writer in time of war? What is the relationship of writing (memory) to history (forgetfulness)? In raising these questions, Darwish implicitly connects writing, homeland, meaning, and resistance in an ironic, condensed work that combines wit with rage.Ibrahim Muhawi's translation beautifully renders Darwish's testament to the heroism of a people under siege, and to Palestinian creativity and continuity. Sinan Antoon's foreword, written expressly for this edition, sets Darwish's work in the context of changes in the Middle East in the past thirty years.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95459-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword to 2013 Edition
    (pp. xi-xx)
    Sinan Antoon

    Mahmoud Darwish died in 2008, leaving behind an astoundingly rich oeuvre. Although predominantly remembered and celebrated for his poetry, his prose works are equally unique and incandescent. His absence has only intensified the reverence and respect his writings command all over the world. Just as he himself wrote in his poignant self-elegy,In the Presence of Absence, “a second life, promised by language, continues” in us, his readers, as we return to his words again and again.

    Memory for Forgetfulnessis one of three major “prose” works Darwish wrote. “Prose” here is not the most satisfactory category, but rather the...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. xxi-xl)

    In the Arab world Mahmoud Darwish is acknowledged as one of the greatest living poets. He has been awarded a number of international literary prizes, and has read his poetry to audiences in many countries around the world. When he gives a reading in any Arab country today, his audience runs into the thousands, with many people turned away for lack of space. He has so far published fourteen volumes of poetry, the first of which,Olive Leaves,appeared in 1964, and the latest,Eleven Planets,in 1993. HisDiwan,or collected poems, comprising the first nine volumes, has been...

  6. Memory for Forgetfulness
    (pp. 1-182)

    Out of one dream, another dream is born:

    —Are you well? I mean, are you alive?

    —How did you know I was just this moment laying my head on your knee to sleep?

    —Because you woke me up when you stirred in my belly. I knew then I was your coffin. Are you alive?Can you hear me?

    —Does it happen much, that you are awakened from one dream by another, itself the interpretation of the dream?

    —Here it is, happening to you and to me. Are you alive?


    —And have the devils cast their spell on you?

    —I don’t...