Friday, December 15, 2017

Robyn Creswell on Adonis in the New Yorker

I respect Creswell's knowledge of Arabic literature but on this piece:
1) he notes how disappointed people have been with Adoni's stance on the Syrian uprising (count me as one) but he cites on that none other than Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm. Does he not see the irony on that? I have been disappointed with the stance of Adonis for sure, but the stance of Al-Azm has been far worse especially in his resort to sectarian language and rhetoric and his subservience to Gulf regime stances during the uprising.  In fact, the political transformation of Al-Azm has been far more glaring than that of Adonis.
2) He says that Adonis ("This is a topic that, unlike most Arab intellectuals of his generation, he has generally avoided") has avoided the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nothing more farther from the truth.  He missed that the journal of Adonis in the late 1969, Mawaqif, basically went over the experience of Shi`r and championed the Palestinian resistance in very strong terms.  There is rarely an interview or an article in Al-Hayat where Adonis has been writing in which he does not mention the Palestinian.  To be sure, in the 1990s, when he was hoping for a Nobel, his stances because a bit more muted but not anymore.  He is very vocal in his views on Israel.
3) he does not mention that Adonis was really influenced by the Jesuit Orientalists at St. Joseph University where he earned his PhD. His PhD dissertation (subsequently published) is a lousy academic work which approaches the heritage of Arabic literature in a most dogmatic and Orientalist fashion.
4) He does not mention how supporters of Syrian rebels often attacked Adonis on account of the sect in which he was born.