Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Literature No.3 October, 2015                    Pp.127-137

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A Postcolonial Reading of two Arabic Novels Translated into English:   Abdel Rahman Al-Sharqawi’s Egyptian Earth and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s The Ship

Nedal Al – Mousa
Arab Open University (AOU)


The paper examines the politics and strategies of decolonization in Abdel Rahman Al-Sharqawi’s Egyptian Earth (1954) and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s The Ship (1973). In Egyptian Earth, the village’s struggle against unpopular government which is aligned with the former British colonizers of Egypt provides the dramatic backbone of the action. The peasants’ developed sense of nationalism manifests itself in their attachment to the land as a part of the decolonizational process at work in the novel. Obsession with land is presented as an overarching theme in The Ship, especially in the life of Wadi Assaf one of the central characters in the novel. Assaf, I would argue, is cast as a Palestinian Ulysses whose homecoming sentiment is the main driving force in his life. On a particular occasion in the novel Assaf, identifying himself with Ulysses, says; “There has to be a return.” The mode of representation used by Jabra in this novel is realism, but through the Homeric parallel mythical realism, in the terminology of Declan Kiberd, combines with realism in the presentation of action, thus giving the Palestinians’ struggle against the Israeli occupation of their land a universal epical dimension. From a decolonizational perspective, intertextuality seems to enable Assaf to hold on to his poetic homecoming sentiment in the face of the bleakness of the prosaic world of reality in which he is barred from returning home as a result of the Jews’ occupation of the country.
Keywords: decolonizaion, land, postcolonial, politics, strategy


Professor Nedal Al – Mousa holds a PhD in English and comparative literature from Essex
University (1984), and an MA in comparative literature from the American University in Cairo
(1977). His research areas include comparative literature, cultural studies translation and literary
He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Hashemite University between 2005 and 2008.
At present he teaches at the Arab Open University (AOU) Jordan Branch. He played an active role
in launching the MA programme in English literature at AOU. He served as an Assistant Director