The problematic of otherness in Lebanese fictional writing - 1975-2000
The aim of this thesis is to explore the notion and experience of Otherness as embodied
in Lebanese fictional texts by such authors as 'Ily5s Khaff, Hudd Barakdt,Rashida l-
Da'If and Handna l-Shaykhd, uring and after the civil war in the Lebanon( 1975-1990).
the study is divided into seven sections, beginning with a theoretical background It moves from the personal to the intrapersonal view of the Other in Lebanese writing,
examining the varying reactions within the texts themselves towards the Otherness of
Otherness stems from the tension and conflict between Self(ves)a nd Other(s).I n
the Lebanon, the pre-warp olitical and geographical dialogueo f unity largely glossed
over differences of gender, religion and class status - differences that were brutally
accentuatebdy the outbreako f civil war. As a result,t he conceptiono f the Lebanona s
the unified totality of a single society, despite its variety, broke down. The war brought
contradictionin the form of opposingv iews of the Other,f rom which thep roblematico f
Othernesds erives.T he prevailingd ilemmao f Othernessis not that it escapeds efinition,
but that it continually redefines itself according to its context. This process of
redefinition involves such multiplicity that it is, therefore, best dealt with in separate
sections. Otherness is discussed here in terms of difference, articulated in theories of
subjectivity by thinkers such as Levinas,L ukAcs Lacan and Goldmann: it appears to be
based on the relationship of the Self to the Other, but is also perceived within the Self.
The Other is therefore different, but - by its very definition - is related to the original
(as,for instance,subject and object, East and West, male and female).
This study focuses on the problematic of Otherness concerning the personal,
sexual,cultural and social Self. Otherness is emphasised by the shattering and loss of the
socialS elf during civil conflict. The displacement and change of lifestyle experiencebdy
the individual seem to be inextricably linked to a new awarenesasn da nalysis of identity
that is evidenti n thec ontemporar writing. The texts reveala background of fragmented
reality - whether located in social, political or geographicatlr ansformation When the
reality one knows and loves is dramatically destroyed - as witnessed, directly or
indirectly, by the authorsd iscussedh ere- the Self is threateneda ndt urns inward ast he
Othere ncroacheusp on its territory. Initially, the relationshipo f Self and Otherc learly
seems ual, but on closer scrutiny it splinters into further perceptions of Otherness This
is reflected in the fragmented style of writing, which is often multi-layered, scattered
with synchronic flashbacks symbolic references surreail mages and imagined interludes.