"I Can Do Nothing Against
the Wish of the Pen"
Studies in the Short Stories of Widad Sakakini

By Astrid Ottosson Bitar
August 2005
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155462014
230 pages, 6 " x 9 "
$58.50 Paper Original

This is a Ph.D. dissertation. This study focuses on the short story writing of the Lebanese/Syrian writer Widad Sakakini (1913-1991). Its primary aim is to discover how she was able to establish herself as a respected writer while keeping her distinctive character as a woman writer within a literary tradition that was strongly defined by patriarchal values and contained many misogynic elements.

An additional aim of the study is to present Widad Sakakini's life and milieu alongside her works. The study is based on the assumption that the fact that Widad Sakakini was a woman, that is, a representative of a normally silenced community, working within a literary tradition dominated by men, influenced both the form and the content of her writing.

Theoretically the study has been influenced by Sandra Gilbert's and Susan Gubar's way of considering texts by early women writers as palimpsests; under the conventional and socially accepted surface deeper and less socially accepted levels of meaning can be found. With the help of structuralist theories as well as poststructuralist theories about intertextuality the study has identified various literary strategies used by Widad Sakakini to conform to the dominant male discourse within which she was working while preserving her own identity as a woman writer.

The study shows that she skillfully managed to create new and sometimes subversive meanings to traditional themes and motifs used in her texts.

Literary Criticism
Studia Semitica Upsaliensia, No. 21

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