After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture

Ammiel Alcalay, Author University of Minnesota Press $108 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8166-2154-5
The thesis in this difficult but important first book by Alcalay is that conventional modes of interpreting Western civilization--its history and belief in its own superiority to other cultures--have left little room for the complex play of Semitic and non-Semitic culture in the Levant, and for the roles of Arabs and Jews in the formation of European cultures. Alcalay, an associate professor of classical literature at Queens College (N.Y.), writes about the West's neglect of Jewish writers and thinkers from the Arab world and the Levant, about the suppression of Sephardic culture by a vehemently Eurocentric Zionism and about the relationship of ``the native Jew to a native space, namely the Levant,'' as a counterbalance to the myth of the Jew as an eternally wandering ``other.'' The book is also a valuable introduction to Levantine Hebrew and Arabic literatures, both medieval and modern, that have received little or no critical attention in English. One can only hope that this book will trigger interest in the work of Hebrew novelists Yitzhaq Shami and Yehuda Burla, essayist Eliyahu Eliachar and dozens of other writers cited by Alcalay, so that these works will become available in the U.S. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 12/01/1992
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Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-8166-2155-2
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