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Memory For Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982
by Mahmoud Darwish, Trans. By Ibrahim Muhawi
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Voice Literary Supplement
"A disturbing and beautifully written account of the 1982 Israeli invasion specifically of August 6th, when land, sea, and air bombardment was at its most intense. It is not a memoir in the ordinary sense, written with the leisurely distance of time, but the embodiment of an agony in which time itself is the subject of meditation."
The Guardian Review (UK)
"Extraordinary prose poems translated from Arabic, written out of the siege of Beirut 20 years ago."
One of the Arab world's greatest living poets uses the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut as the setting for this sequence of prose poems. Mahmoud Darwish vividly recreates the sights and sounds of a city under terrible siege. As fighter jets scream overhead, he explores the war-ravaged streets of Beirut on August 6th (Hiroshima Day).
Memory for Forgetfulness is an extended reflection on the invasion and its political and historical dimensions. It is also a journey into personal and collective memory. What is the meaning of exile? What is the role of the writer in time of war? What is the relationship of writing (memory) to history (forgetfulness)? In raising these questions, Darwish implicitly connects writing, homeland, meaning, and resistance in an ironic, condensed work that combines wit with rage.
Ibrahim Muhawi's translation beautifully renders Darwish's testament to the heroism of a people under siege, and to Palestinian creativity and continuity.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Arabic
About the Author
Mahmoud Darwish has lived most of his life in Lebanon and Palestine. The author of fourteen volumes of poetry and numerous prose works, he now lives in Paris. Ibrahim Muhawi is coauthor and translator of Speak Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales (California, 1988). He is currently a Visiting Professor of Folklore and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.
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