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Hamlet's Arab Journey: Shakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost (Translation/Transnation) Hardcover – October 23, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Absorbing . . . fascinating . . . richly detailed." - TLS

"Litvin succeeds in describing the Arab Hamlet as a political and sociological phenomenon, without ever losing her grasp on the aesthetic. She is also refreshingly free from literary theory orthodoxies. . . . Rather, in engaging and lucid prose, she tells a story, and it is a compelling one." - The Oxonian Review

"Underneath Litvin's scholarly chill, there is a lyrical elegy: at once she laments the passing of Egypt's theatrical golden age and the political dream that inspired it. . . . [An] agile negotiation of the uses and abuses of the Hamlet tale." - Bidoun

"Studying productions of Hamlet across the Arab world, including performances in Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria, Litvin draws broad parallels between the struggles of Shakespeare's protagonist and the frustrated political and cultural hopes of Arab intellectuals. Citing an interesting variety of sources--from videos and reviews to scripts and interviews--the author provides a new perspective on how Shakespearean drama has been appropriated in various international and political contexts."--Choice

"An exceptional work that crosses many disciplinary boundaries, Margaret Litvin's Hamlet's Arab Journey not only provides a new approach to the study of international Shakespeare appropriation, but also promises an engaging and narrative-rich point of access to the operations of Arab cultural and political identities."--Lobna Ismail, Theatre Research International

"Remarkable and deserving of particular mention, Margaret Litvin's monograph Hamlet's Arab Journey presents far-reaching and unexpected outcomes. . . . Litvin's study, conducted with acumen and passion, uniquely emphasizes the potential impact of translating literature."--Federico Federici, Translation Studies

"Hamlet's Arab Journey is an elegantly written, strongly argued book that would enrich courses in Arabic literature, cultural studies, and Middle East history."--Sonali Pahwa, International Journal of Middle East Studies

From the Back Cover

"A fascinating look at how one of the Western world's most iconic literary characters has been appropriated by Arabs as a symbol of secularism, nationalism, or Islamism, depending on the prevailing political mood. Hamlet's Arab Journey is not just a brilliant work of literary analysis--it is a wholly new way of thinking about modern Arab literary and political culture. Indeed, Litvin presents readers with a fresh interpretation of Arab history in the twentieth century, one told through the lens of perhaps the most famous play in the world. This is bold, clever, and fresh scholarship, written in clear and accessible prose, and intended for anyone who cares about the power of literature to transform society--for good or bad."--Reza Aslan, author No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

"Presenting a strong and convincing argument, fascinating details, good historical contextualization, and a fast-paced narrative, this engrossing book shows how various productions and manifestations of Hamlet are in conversation with each other and with an enormous range of intellectual and artistic regions in the Arab world. It will reanimate conversations amongst various audiences interested in contemporary Arab cultural creation, the interplay of politics and culture, and of course, Shakespeare."--Marilyn Booth, University of Edinburgh


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Product Details

  • Series: Translation/Transnation
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691137803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691137803
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Litvin is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Boston University, focusing on modern Arabic drama and political culture. Her book, Hamlet's Arab Journey: Shakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost (Princeton, 2011), examines the many reworkings of Shakespeare's Hamlet in postcolonial Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Her next book project (working title Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams: Forgotten Flows of Twentieth-Century Culture) explores the educational and cultural ties between the Soviet Union and several Arab countries during and since the Cold War, tracing their effects on Arabic literature and theatre.
Litvin holds a PhD from the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought (2006) and has been an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Yale University's Whitney Humanities Center. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Critical Survey, the Journal of Arabic Literature, Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Yearbook, and Shakespeare Bulletin. She has lived and studied in Egypt and traveled extensively to Lebanon; she speaks Arabic, Russian, French, and Spanish.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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I was given this book for one of my PhD classes and went into it rather blind to Arab theatre. This book is a comprehensive study and breakdown of how Hamlet and Shakespeare have influenced Arab culture but also how Egyptian theatre itself was shaped over the last 70 years.

Litvin begins her book by appealing to the Shakespeare enthusiast, coaxing them into a comfortable introduction to a world they may not have studied in school and making all things foreign seem like an easy discussion through her easy writing style. While the book is academic, and approaches each chapter with in-depth dissection, it is so thorough that it leaves the reader with very little question about the topic: it's fully covered.

The discussion is broken down into a journey which is why this title is so perfect for the book. You begin down the street of Hamlet and Shakespeare, turn a corner into Arab culture, then come to a lesson on Nasser and his influence on art and his people during a very trying time in Egypt. We are taken down paths to learn how the British culture began to overpower French culture in Egyptian thinking, and how Shakespeare began to infiltrate the doors of theatres, homes, and schools of the Arab people. When finding out way back to the main street and message, we leave British culture behind for a post-colonial look at how Hamlet stuck around and was used to express the views of the people during The June War and all that has come after, inspiring several versions of Hamlet which Litvin discusses in Chapter Six.

When researching elements of the book, its presence was seen in every google search about the people named on its pages.
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Hamlet's Arab Journey: Shakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost (Translation/Transnation)
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