“This is not a novel, but a reader’s biography.” This is how my friend, the Syrian novelist and journalist, Khalil Sweileh, answered me after I thought that his work was a “novel” at the moment of a quick preview of the cover of his latest book “Nuzha al-Ghurab” (2021), the moment it was announced months ago in the publications of “Dar Nineveh”.
It is a message, although it is brief, but it is rich. It contains a critical and intellectual momentum in its folds, so that I was amazed at its impact on my body. International literary criticism, as its features and characteristics have crystallized within contemporary French culture, so that the reader finds great difficulties in the nature of these writings that fluctuate between thought and criticism. Read also “The President was my friend”…The Syrian Revolution’s narrative The Syrian war..a sad narrative with different rhythms The Syrian novel..a huge blog to expose tyranny Death is hard work, a novel that summarizes the Syrian plight
It is a writing that refuses to confine itself within criticism, but rather looks forward to entering the field of thought, where writing is fused within a critical discourse in which human and social knowledge is mixed and together they lead the new form of writing, in order to dismantle the literary work and the breaches and aesthetics it exudes.
However, Khalil Sweileh in this book does not claim that his book is intellectual, rather it is merely a “biography of a reader.” This humility of knowledge in the naturalization of his book contains symbolic dimensions, so that we find that writing does not grant its legitimacy from its existence, but rather from the other that inhabits it and from experiences. The fine Arabic literature that occupies the lover of this writing with concern and carves its concepts and aesthetics within the geographies of literature.
But Sweileh – who knows his book as a biography of a reader – is implicitly subjected to the method of vision to the concept of biography, but the reader is soon surprised by the fact that the rhythm and music of writing do not follow the pattern of critical writing that we usually read in criticism books, because he is busy with the mental biography of people’s lives and their failures on the The cusp of writing and life.
When he carefully reviews the wound of the other, he often penetrates his body to express his biography and his pain, this time, not the other, in his relationship with writers, writers and writers whose works usually involve a tragic tragedy that does not differ from the region to which the writer belongs physically. Existential anxiety for the self and daily life and its pitfalls seem clear and structured, but it works to adapt this cynical pain imaginatively from one body to the other and from the other to his body, which affects his concept of writing and makes it not subject to the laws of literature and criticism, it is an insidious writing open to the topography of pain The human wound, based on specific literary experiences.
Features of renewal
Thus, as I read the book, the features of the thought of Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida and other French thinkers who opened an unknown continent within contemporary thought with their deep philosophical interests appeared to me, the daily, the fleeting, the visitor, the marginalized, the unthinking and the forgotten in our bodies in remote paths, which remained untouched by the power of thinking within modern rationalist philosophy; But this contemporary philosophy is not present in a crude and apparent way within the book’s discourse, because its basis is not philosophical but literary, through which Khalil Sweileh works on reading the Arab cultural text poetry, novel and criticism.
In this oblique and dissected reading of the sociology of the cultural discourse of a literary experience; Khalil Sweileh sneaks into himself, passes a number of messages, feelings, thoughts and personal attitudes, and makes them identify with the experience he is writing about. And this way of formulating the other – as a reflection of ourselves – is what led to the form of reeling writing that does not reside within certain limits and does not settle for its literary taste, but rather looks to dig into the repression of the literary work, as it is an entity in which ideas and attitudes intertwine.
However, what kept coming to my mind about the phrase “Biography of a Reader” was the recollection of the novel “Awraq” by the Moroccan historian Abdallah Laroui, in which he wrote a biography of ideas for the character of its hero, Idris, which made the novel gradually differ from the common understanding within the novel A Moroccan woman is more thirsty for “autobiography” than for “mental biography”.
But the case of the crow’s picnic is different. Because it does not belong to the genre of the novel, which makes the reader get lost in understanding, he is not accustomed to this kind of confusing titles in the methods of their formation and disavowed from the academic pedagogy of jurisprudential reporting, which only works to ruminate things, without scrutiny and without allowing him to think about The renewal of themes, artistic methods and aesthetic molds that govern the critical text, which makes some of them fall into a process of rotation and repetition, of what was said, researched and thought about.
However, Khalil Sweileh – in this book – combines the style of personal biography with the one related to mental biography, and makes it identifies with himself first, before he forms its aesthetic features and the extent of its impact on the privacy of the literary text of a certain writer.
The transition between the types of literary biographies is an amazing way for Khalil Sweileh to write the history of the body of the other and to understand its premises, predicaments and cracks. Not based on these external factors, but on autonomy based on artistic and aesthetic criteria.
The alienation of the self and making it dissolve literary in the body of the other is the most important characteristic of Khalil Sweileh’s book from a formal point of view, given that his critical writing begins from within the body of the other and not from outside it, meaning that the external literary, historical and cultural contexts are not important in illuminating the features of the writer’s literary work. And all of this is only for the sake of liberation from the oppression of theory and the authority of dry academic writing, which is what made Khalil Sweileh one of the few Arab literary names that work within their writings to disrupt the familiar, whether within fictional works or in terms of cultural books that he reviews or poetic, novel and intellectual experiences that he reviews. It is dissected for cash.