Emile Habiby's "Saeed The Pessoptimist.pdf": A Masterpiece of Modern Arabic Literature
- Who is the author and what is his background?- What are the main themes and messages of the book? H2: Summary of the plot - How does Saeed become a Palestinian informant in Israel?- What are some of the adventures and misfortunes he faces?- How does he escape to outer space with an alien friend?- What are the letters he writes to an unnamed correspondent? H2: Analysis of the characters - How is Saeed portrayed as a pessoptimist?- What are some of the other characters that influence his life?- How do they represent different aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? H2: Evaluation of the style and language - How does the author use humor, satire, irony and allegory?- What are some of the literary devices and references he employs?- How does he blend Arabic and Hebrew words and expressions?- How does he challenge the conventions of narrative and genre? H2: Discussion of the reception and impact - How was the book received by critics and readers?- What are some of the controversies and debates it sparked?- How did it influence other Palestinian writers and artists?- How is it relevant to contemporary issues and struggles? H1: Conclusion - What are the main points and takeaways from the article?- What are some of the questions and challenges that the book raises?- How can readers learn more about the book and its context? Article with HTML formatting Introduction
"Saeed The Pessoptimist.pdf" is a novel by Emile Habiby, a Palestinian writer who was born in Haifa in 1922 and died in Nazareth in 1996. The novel was first published in Arabic in 1974, and has been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish and Turkish. The novel tells the story of Saeed, a Palestinian who becomes an informant for Israel after the 1948 war that resulted in the establishment of Israel and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Saeed's life is full of absurdities, tragedies, comedies and paradoxes, as he tries to survive and cope with his situation. He eventually escapes to outer space with the help of an extraterrestrial friend, from where he writes letters to an unnamed correspondent, recounting his experiences and reflections.
Saeed The Pessoptimist.pdf
The novel is considered a masterpiece of modern Arabic literature, as well as a classic of Palestinian literature. It combines humor, satire, irony and allegory to critique the political and social realities of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. It also explores themes such as identity, resistance, loyalty, betrayal, hope and despair. The novel challenges the stereotypes and expectations of both Arabs and Israelis, as well as the conventions of narrative and genre. It blends elements of realism, fantasy, science fiction, folklore, history and autobiography. It also incorporates words and expressions from Arabic, Hebrew, English and other languages, creating a rich and unique linguistic style.
In this article, we will provide a summary of the plot, an analysis of the characters, an evaluation of the style and language, and a discussion of the reception and impact of "Saeed The Pessoptimist.pdf". We will also highlight some of the main themes and messages that Habiby conveys through his novel.
Summary of the plot
The novel consists of four parts: The First Life (1948-1967), The Second Life (1967-1970), The Third Life (1970-1973) and The Fourth Life (1973-?). Each part covers a different period in Saeed's life, corresponding to major events in Palestinian-Israeli history.
In The First Life, we learn that Saeed belongs to a noble family that traces its origins to a Cypriot girl from Aleppo who escaped from Tamerlane's massacre. His father, who was a friend of a Jewish police officer named Safsarsheck, was killed by Israeli soldiers in 1948, and Saeed was saved by a donkey. His family fled to Lebanon, but Saeed returned to Israel and became an informant for Safsarsheck, hoping to gain favor and protection. He married a woman named Yuaad, who bore him a son named Walaa. However, his life was full of troubles and humiliations, as he was constantly harassed and exploited by the Israeli authorities, and despised and distrusted by his fellow Palestinians. He also had several affairs with other women, including a Jewish woman named Yehudit, who gave him a daughter named Yusra.
In The Second Life, we see that Saeed's situation worsened after the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was arrested and tortured by the Israeli security services, who accused him of being a double agent for the Palestinian resistance. He was also betrayed by his wife Yuaad, who ran away with another man. He managed to escape from prison with the help of a mysterious man named Abu Qais, who claimed to be his cousin. He then joined a group of Palestinian guerrillas in Jordan, led by Abu Ali Iyad, who was a real historical figure and a commander of the Fatah movement. Saeed participated in some operations against Israel, but he was also suspected and mistreated by some of his comrades. He witnessed the events of Black September in 1970, when the Jordanian army clashed with the Palestinian fighters and expelled them from the country.
In The Third Life, we follow Saeed as he moved to Lebanon, where he continued his involvement with the Palestinian resistance. He also met a woman named Nada, who became his lover and companion. He experienced the hardships and dangers of living in the refugee camps, as well as the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people. He also encountered some of his old acquaintances, such as Safsarsheck, Yehudit and Yusra. He was involved in the 1973 war between Israel and Egypt and Syria, which ended with a ceasefire agreement. He also witnessed the rise of new political and religious movements among the Palestinians, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Islamic Jihad.
In The Fourth Life, we discover that Saeed had a miraculous encounter with an alien being named Ikhnatonos XVII, who came from a planet called Marsimian. The alien befriended Saeed and offered him a chance to escape from his miserable life on Earth. Saeed accepted the offer and boarded a spaceship with Ikhnatonos XVII, leaving behind his lover Nada and his son Walaa. From outer space, Saeed wrote letters to an unnamed correspondent, whom he addressed as "my dear friend". In these letters, he narrated his life story and shared his thoughts and feelings about his past and present situation. He also commented on the events that were happening on Earth, such as the 1974 Arab summit in Rabat, which recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; the 1977 visit of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Israel; and the 1979 Iranian revolution. He also expressed his hopes for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.
Analysis of the characters
The main character of the novel is Saeed, whose name means "happy" or "lucky" in Arabic. However, his life is anything but happy or lucky. He is a pessoptimist, a term coined by Habiby to describe someone who is both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time. Saeed is pessimistic because he suffers from oppression, injustice, violence and betrayal throughout his life. He is optimistic because he never loses hope or faith in himself or in humanity. He is also naive, gullible, foolish and clumsy. He often makes mistakes and gets into trouble. He is also selfish, dishonest, unfaithful and cowardly. He lies to others and to himself. He cheats on his wife and abandons his children. He collaborates with his enemies and betrays his friends.
However, Saeed is also sympathetic, humorous, witty and charming. He has a good heart and a good sense of humor. He makes fun of himself and of others. He tries to find joy and meaning in his life. He loves his family and his people. He resists his oppressors and supports his comrades. He dreams of freedom and dignity for himself and for others.
Evaluation of the style and language
The novel is written in a style and language that reflects Habiby's creativity and originality. He uses humor, satire, irony and allegory to expose the absurdity and cruelty of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He also uses various literary devices and references to enrich his narrative and to challenge the reader's expectations. Some of these devices and references are:
Intertextuality: Habiby draws on various sources from Arabic and world literature, such as the Quran, the Bible, the Thousand and One Nights, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, Kafka, Orwell and others. He also quotes from Palestinian poets and writers, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Zayyad, Samih al-Qasim and Ghassan Kanafani. He also refers to historical figures and events, such as Tamerlane, Napoleon, Nasser, Sadat, Black September and others.
Metafiction: Habiby plays with the conventions of narrative and genre, breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly. He also comments on his own writing process and challenges the notions of truth and fiction. He also mixes elements of realism, fantasy, science fiction, folklore, history and autobiography.
Code-switching: Habiby blends words and expressions from different languages, such as Arabic, Hebrew, English and others. He also uses dialects and slang to reflect the diversity and hybridity of his characters and their contexts. He also creates new words and meanings by combining or altering existing ones.
Symbolism: Habiby uses symbols and metaphors to convey deeper meanings and messages. For example, he uses animals to represent different aspects of human nature or society. He also uses objects or places to signify certain themes or ideas. For example, he uses the donkey to symbolize Saeed's foolishness and loyalty; he uses the spaceship to symbolize Saeed's escape and isolation; he uses Haifa to symbolize Saeed's homeland and nostalgia.
Habiby's style and language are innovative and influential in modern Arabic literature. They also challenge the stereotypes and prejudices of both Arabs and Israelis, as well as the dominant narratives and discourses of power and oppression.
Discussion of the reception and impact
The novel was well received by critics and readers alike. It won several awards, including the Al-Quds Prize from the PLO in 1990; the Israel Prize for Arabic literature in 1992; and the Palestine Prize for Literature in 1996. It was also adapted into a film by Israeli director Michel Khleifi in 1992.
The novel also sparked some controversies and debates among different audiences. Some Palestinians accused Habiby of being a traitor or a collaborator for accepting Israeli citizenship and awards. Some Israelis accused Habiby of being a subversive or a terrorist for supporting Palestinian resistance and rights. Some critics also questioned Habiby's use of humor or fantasy to deal with serious or tragic issues.
The novel also influenced other Palestinian writers and artists who followed Habiby's example of using humor, satire, irony and allegory to express their views and experiences. Some examples are Anton Shammas's Arabesques (1986), Sayed Kashua's Dancing Arabs (2002), Suad Amiry's Sharon And My Mother-In-Law (2003) and Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks (2007).
The novel is also relevant to contemporary issues and struggles that Palestinians face under Israeli occupation or in exile. It raises questions about identity, resistance, loyalty, betrayal, hope and despair that are still pertinent today. It also offers insights into the human dimension of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are often overlooked or ignored by politicians or media.
In this article, we have provided a summary of the plot, an analysis of the characters, an evaluation of the style and language, and a discussion of the reception and impact of "Saeed The Pessoptimist.pdf". We have also highlighted some of the main themes and messages that Habiby conveys through his novel.
The novel is a masterpiece of modern Arabic literature, as well as a classic of Palestinian literature. It is a novel that challenges, entertains, educates and inspires its readers. It is a novel that reflects the complexity and contradiction of the Palestinian condition under Israeli occupation. It is a novel that expresses the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows, the humor and tragedy of the Palestinian people.
The novel also raises questions and challenges for its readers. How can one cope with oppression and injustice? How can one resist or collaborate with one's enemies? How can one maintain or lose one's identity and dignity? How can one find or lose one's hope and faith? How can one write or read about such issues?
If you are interested in learning more about the novel and its context, you can read some of the following sources:
Habiby, Emile. The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist. Translated by Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Trevor Le Gassick. Brooklyn: Interlink Books, 2003.
El-Aswad, El-Sayed. "Emile Habiby's The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist: A Study in Humor and Irony." Journal of Arabic Literature 34, no. 1/2 (2003): 110-127.
Harlow, Barbara. "The Pessoptimist: Emile Habiby." In After Lives: Legacies of Revolutionary Writing. London: Verso, 1996.
Kanaana, Sharif. "The Pessoptimist: A Palestinian Novel." Journal of Palestine Studies 5, no. 3/4 (1976): 144-155.
Mattar, Philip. "Emile Habibi." In Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts On File, 2005.
What is the meaning of the term "pessoptimist"?
A pessoptimist is someone who is both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time. It is a term coined by Emile Habiby to describe his main character Saeed, who suffers from oppression and injustice but never loses hope or faith.
Who is Ikhnatonos XVII and what role does he play in the novel?
Ikhnatonos XVII is an alien being from a planet called Marsimian who befriends Saeed and offers him a chance to escape from his miserable life on Earth. He plays the role of a deus ex machina who rescues Saeed from his predicament and enables him to write his letters from outer space.
What are some of the literary sources and references that Habiby uses in his novel?
Habiby draws on various sources from Arabic and world literature, such as the Quran, the Bible, the Thousand and One Nights, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, Kafka, Orwell and others. He also quotes from Palestinian poets and writers, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Zayyad, Samih al-Qasim and Ghassan Kanafani. He also refers to historical figures and events, such as Tamerlane, Napoleon, Nasser, Sadat, Black September and others.
What are some of the literary devices and techniques that Habiby employs in his novel?
Habiby employs various literary devices and techniques in his novel, such as humor, satire, irony, allegory, intertextuality, metafiction, code-switching and symbolism. He uses these devices and techniques to enrich his narrative and to challenge his reader's expectations.
What are some of the awards and adaptations that the novel received?
The novel received several awards, including the Al-Quds Prize from the PLO in 1990; the Israel Prize for Arabic literature in 1992; and the Palestine Prize for Literature in 1996. It was also adapted into a film by Israeli director Michel Khleifi in 1992.