From then the space will loose his real connotation to become an evocative and charming memory of a lost world that the European and non European literature would try to recreate in his supposed splendor. In this case, the Levant begins in Alexandria from where Ungaretti sails. The city is already a space inbetween :.
source The Levant, as a real space, was generally identified with a part of the Mediterranean. During the modern era, the Levantines were Europeanizing people generally involved in commerce with the North Mediterranean i.
Italy and France , speaking many languages, cosmopolites citizen of the colonial world. In European languages, until two decades ago, the adjective Levantine, had also a negative connotation. But the second meaning reveals another nuance: cunning and cheating. This meaning, with a sense of continuity, transmigrates also in other non European languages, as Hebrew 7.
Ammiel Alcalay, in his After Jews and Arabs. The question this work poses is: if in the cultural framework of the modern Levantine world a literary category could emerge and which elements this category would include. As a way to explore such a possibility, I will provide some examples taken from Hebrew and Italian literature, following the proposition suggested by Alcalay:. While an old Levantine world whose Jewish and Arab presence is accounted for and considered in relation to Europe still remains largely unexplored, a new Levant — more discrete and fragmented but still aware of the possibilities of its space — is in the making.
This space is similar to the Levant of Ungaretti: it is not only a place, but also a time during which the past appears in the present, remembering to the Poet that an eternal exile is occurring:. Although the image of the Byzantine art of putting together stones of different colours has an intrinsic efficacy, we must remember that the figure appearing from the mosaic is flat, mono-dimensional, and depthless.
The Levant is a land of ancient civilisation, which cannot sharply differentiate from the Mediterranean world, and is not synonymous with Islam, even if a majority of his inhabitants are Moslems. The Levant has a character and history of his own. It is not exclusively western or eastern, Christian, Jewish or Moslem.
Because of its diversity, the Levant has been compared to a mosaic to a mosaic — bits of stone of different colours assembled into a flat picture. To me it is more like a prism whose various facets are joined by the sharp edge of differences, but each of which, according to its position in time-space continuum, reflects or refracts light. Influenced by Camus and other Western intellectuals, and by her cultural experience in Paris and the U.
In Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff published Mi-mizrah shemesh Sun from the East 20 — a collection of essays, articles, and short stories, originally written in English and translated into Hebrew by Aharon Amir Israeli intellectual and founder of the literary magazine Keshet. Her family hired several British governesses directly summoned from London.
Her knowledge of basic spoken Arabic, her strong self-consciousness, and her lively disposition sharpened her focus, putting her into the condition to intensely perceive the extraordinary potential of a multicultural or plural environment. All her essays and literary writing eventually collected in Mi-mizrah shemesh developed out of such a composite experience. We wanted to break out of narrow minority framework into which we were born, to strive toward something universal … Our parent were pro-British as a matter of business and security and we were nationalist as a matter of principle … Revolution and Marxism seemed the only way to reach a future that would include both our European mentors and the Arab masses … The Arabs and other colonized peoples were cultural hybrids by chance, while we, the Levantine, were unavoidably so, as if by vocation and destiny The words of J.
In the essay Multiple Modernities, publishedin , Eisenstadt suggests that:.
Ongoing reconstructions of multiple institutional and ideological patterns are carried forward by specific social actors in close connection with social, political and intellectual activists, and also by social movements pursuing many different programs of modernity, holding very different views on what makes societies modern In the passage quoted above, in a few lines, we discover the multilayered character of the local Jewish community.
What name does she give to the varied quintessence and representation of her reality? I am a typical Levantine in the sense that I put at the same degree what I have received from my Eastern background and what I later had in heredity from Western culture. And maybe from this perspective I can try to define the complex and intricate conflict between the two big communities composing the State of Israel It appears as mode of blending several modernities and, sometimes, a mix of contradictory operating metanarratives During my childhood, I thought it was fairly normal that people could understand each other and look alike, in spite of the fact that they spoke different languages and were known by different names — they were Greeks, Moslems, Syrians, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Italians, Tunisians, and Armenians The writers coming from the Levant world?
The writers who describe it? Could the necessity to establish a Levantine category be another way of organizing the great amount of colonial literary material to which our present time is tied and in which European culture is — broadly speaking — involved?
To those of us who were born in the communities of the Orient, the names of places that where once familiar - Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Tunis, Algiers — are now the faraway places in that mythical geography of hearts and minds where distances do not correspond to those on maps. Kahanoff specifies to be Levantine and all her prose is designed to render the compound context of her origin. From this starting point, we can assume that the case of Kahanoff bears elements of a literary Levantinism based on an initial definition and on the reconstruction throughout the text of a lost modern world whose many elements converge in defining the identity of the author and of the other Levantines.
The novel is set in Egypt, mainly in Alexandria and in Cairo for the last section , where Daniela, the protagonist, lives. The time of the narration spans from the Twenties until the end of World War II, when the protagonist discovers sexuality and pursues her autonomy and her independence as a woman in a contradictory and ambiguous context made up of tradition and modernity.
Daniela is of Levantine birth: her native town is Alexandria, she commands several languages, and she has obtained a European education in an Arab land. The young heroine is also defined as Levantine by the author herself. But, in reality , they are both protagonist of that compound Levantine world where people, as suggested by Kahanoff, could understand each other in spite of they speak different languages.
When she does her first travel abroad, in Italy at the age of eighteen, she perceives to be the other :. Non ero abituata a veder bottegai che non fossero levantini, e ai milanesi trovavo una forma civile e ironica, che mi metteva soggezione.
Entravo nelle botteghe, ascoltavo la cadenza dialettale della nonna. She arrived there with her husband, so we can say that she was Levantine by adoption. Shaping a protagonist that the reader could regard as Levantine by rights, Fausta Cialente finds the way to reconcile her sense of belonging to a land where she lived for more than twenty years and at the same time, to justify a formless devotion to her real homeland - for which she has been a foreigner for a long time.
I remember a summer when we were sojourning at a hotel in Alexandria, by the sea.
There were many English officers and their wives and a certain lady asked me what was I. I knew I was not Egyptian, as the Arabs are, but I also knew that it was a motive of great shame for a person not to know who she was. Born of her own intercultural experience, her novels have traced a steady expansion in their settings and concerns to the translational and translingual in works that span the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries. Her injunctions on how her texts are to be read constitute, in themselves, a commentary on the supposed links between non-fiction and objectivity, and fiction and subjectivity in her own texts as well as more widely.
Benson, Eugene and Toye, William [eds. Bond, David J. Ireland, Susan and Proulx, Patrice J. Fell Oxford: Peter Lang, , pp. Karpinski et al. Proulx, Patrice J. Sing, Pamela V. Skip to main content Skip to main menu.