symploke Berman's book also complements more recent contributions to American literary studies like Wai Chee Dimock's Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (2006), which argues for comparative approaches to American literature that place it in a global historical context stretching back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Although Dimock does not dwell on the Arabic literary tradition and its relationship to American literature, the vision guiding hers and Berman's books is the same. I might add that the rapidly growing field of Arab American studies will benefit enormously from Berman's exposition of its pre-history, which anchors Arab American literature firmly in the American literary field. Berman's scholarship is wide-ranging and impeccable. His thorough knowledge of nineteenth-century American literature and culture is evident on every page. His knowledge of the Arabic language, classical Arabic literature, and Islamic scholarship is impressive. All of that is to be expected in the best kinds of comparative work, but the truly original thing about this book is its novel theoretical approach. Berman is not content to read American literature with a focus on what he calls the American arabesque; he reads American literature with Arabic literature, from a theoretical perspective that is
symploke – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Dec 22, 2013
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