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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Emile Habiby's The Secret Life of Saeed through Italo Calvino

The Italian writer Italo Calvino, known for his unique writing style, has been associated with numerous writers in order to show his influence in their creation. Although, the many studies on Calvino’s novels, there are a few scholars who have mentioned any relation between him and the Israeli writer Emile Habiby. Calvino’s magic realism has penetrated the Middle Eastern literature without being noticed. The purpose of this essay is to show how the styles of the two authors present similarities. The essay focuses on Habiby’s novel The Secret life of Saeed published in 1974, which presents similarities with the style of Italo Calvino’s Cosmocomics published in 1965. The structure of the novels, the short chapters, the narration of the story through a character, and the notion of alienation are some of the common elements that Habiby’s writing remembers Calvino’s. The main attention is given to the analysis between Habiby’s novel The Secret Life of Saeed and the Cosmocomics, but it is also necessary to propose passages from other Calvino’s novels as The Baron in the Trees and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. The novels show a strong intertextual connection: in several occasions the two writers recur to the Arabian Nights to enrich their texts. While Italo Calvino is helped by mythology, his Israeli colleague recurs to history, but both writers use the text in itself as a refuge for their characters transformations. It is through the analysis of the texts that the essay compares the two writer’s literary expression.

Presenter: Blerina Lani (Buffalo State College) -- lanib01@mail.buffalostate.edu
Topic: English - Panel
Location: 216 Hartwell
Time: 10:30 am (Session II)