Comparative literature in Arabic: History and major issues
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It is well known that Comparative Literature in Arabic can not look back at a long history; but still this fact should not be allowed to stand as a vindication of the paucity of writings that deal with the background and development of this young field of literary scholarship. Apart from two or three attempts at introducing some aspects of the emergence of the discipline, there is almost nothing on the subject, especially before the 1980's.(1) That is in Arabic of course, but when it comes to accounts on Arabic Comparative Literature in other languages nothing of any significance exists. If one takes as an example The Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, which regularly reports on the development of comparative studies throughout the world, one finds in the whole series (1952-1985) only two entries on Arabic Comparative Literature.(2) Under the first entry (1959) there is something of an account,(3) whereas under the second entry (1964) there is nothing more than a misleading broad title(4) that turns to be simply a review of a small comparative book written by the author of the first entry, Mohamed Ghonemi Hilal. In other European languages, and even in French and Russian, nothing exists, to the best of my knowledge. In view of all this, the present paper has no choice but to pay the historical background more attention than what its author has originally wished.