1 Æ§◊im al-Jind¬, “Badr Sh®kir al-Sayy®b: Sh®Æir al-Maæs® wa al-ºad®tha,” al-Sh®hid , December 1996, 109. Unless otherwise indicated, this and further translations are mine. A “SALARY” OF DEATH: AESTHETICS AND ECONOMY IN BADR SH§KIR AL - SAYY§B’S “ºAFF§R AL-QUB‡R” (“THE GRAVEDIGGER”) MOHAMMAD SALAMA San Francisco State University Abstract In one of modern Arabic literature’s most genuinely pessimistic poems, “ºaff®r al- Qub‚r” (“The Gravedigger”), Badr Sh®kir al-Sayy®b depicts a shattered world seen from the perspective of a lascivious misanthropist who earns his living as a grave- digger. While a majority of critics have interpreted the poem in psychological terms as a re fl ection of al-Sayy®b’s tormented ego, this paper offers a radically contextual deconstructionist reading that relates the gloomy condition of the poetic persona’s life not merely to its author’s personal sufferings, but to the socio-historical circumstances and economic conditions of the Iraqi society in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The fundamental postulate of this study is that although al-Sayy®b’s poetry always revolves around personal and abstract issues, it re fl ects the economic reality of its time in a manner that is not just mimetic or reproductive of dominant ideologies, but deeply ironic and critical of
Journal of Arabic Literature – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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