Pacifist Invasions is about what happens to the francophone lyric in the translingual Franco-Arabic context. Drawing on lyric theory, comparative poetics, and linguistics, it demonstrates how Arabic literature and Islamic scripture pacifically invade French in the poetry of Habib Tengour (Algeria), Edmond Jabès (Egypt), Salah Stétié (Lebanon), Abdelwahab Meddeb (Tunisia), and Ryoko Sekiguchi (Japan). Pacifist Invasions deploys side-by-side comparisons of classical Arabic literature, Islamic scripture, and the Arabic commentary traditions in the original language against the landscapes of modern and contemporary French and francophone literature, poetry, and poetics. Detailed close readings reveal three generic modes of translating Arabic poetics into the French lyric, and the mechanisms by which poets foreignize French, as they engage in a translational and intertextual relationship with the history and world of Arabic literature.
Through fine-grained analyses of poetry, translations, commentaries, chapbooks, art books, and essays, Pacifist Invasions proposes a cross-cultural history and rereading of French and francophone literatures in relation to the transversal translations and transmissions of classical Arabic poetics. It offers a translingual, comparative repositioning of the field of francophone postcolonial studies along a fluid, translational Franco-Arabic axis. The vision of the postfrancophone succeeds the point of exhaustion within the French poetic sociolect, with wide-ranging and surprising implications for the study of French and francophone poetry.
"Pacifist Invasions will be of major importance to scholars of postcolonial francophone literature and intervenes in important ways in ongoing debates on world literature."
Olivia Harrison, University of Southern California
Elegant, textured, and richly insightful, Yasser Elhariry’s book nimbly explores Franco-Arab writers who infuse French poetry with Arabic cultural traditions. Helpfully delineating major Arabic forms that go back many centuries, Elhariry examines how contemporary poets intertextually and interlingually intertwine them with French. They remake the landscape of French poetry, unleashing new possibilities by their reverse colonization of French with the idioms, forms, and spirituality of Muslim Arab lands. An important study of a fascinatingly translingual and intercultural body of work.
Jahan Ramazani, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Poetry