The Provincialism of a Literary World
This chapter examines the provincialism of a literary world in early twentieth-century Egypt and France by focusing on two scenes of epistolary exchange: the letters exchanged between André Gide and Taha Hussein in 1939, and a series of imagined letters exchanged in the context of Hussein's 1935 novella Adīb (A Man of Letters). It first considers the transformation of theological questions into literature in the correspondence between Gide and Hussein before asking about the world that literature makes thinkable. It then analyzes the imaginary correspondence staged in Adīb that recounts the story of a friendship between two intellectuals from the same village. The Gide–Hussein correspondence invites us to contemplate on the circulation and dissemination of literary writing—the sorts of transnational exchanges by now integral to discourses of world literature and access to texts across languages and nationalities.
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