Elias Khoury's The Journey of Little Gandhi: Fiction and Ideology
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 April 2009
Commenting on his novel Riḥlat Gandhī al-Ṣaghīr (The Journey of Little Gandhi), Elias Khoury has made two conflicting assertions. At a gathering held to discuss the book shortly after it was published, Khoury reaffirmed his political and ideological stance in relation to the war in Lebanon. While acknowledging that Gandhi, the protagonist, is a victim of violence and poverty, Khoury said that he regards war as a necessity, a passage to a higher and nobler aim:
I am not one of those who preach against violence, nor do I claim that I am against the war.
I have participated in the war, and I remain true to my original choice, and loyal to my comrades who died the death of martyrs. I refuse to go along with the popular “anti-war” fad. At the same time, I remain faithful to the truth and the goal for which we started the war: the creation of another more just and democratic society⃜ [U]nfortunately, we have not succeeded, but at least, it is our duty to tell the truth and… what actually happened.
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4 See The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin, ed. Holquist, Michael, trans. Emerson, Caryl and Holquist, Michael (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981)Google Scholar.
7 See al-Majdhūb, Ṭalāl Mājid, Taʾrlkh Ṣaydāʾ al-ijtimāʿi (Beirut and Sidon: al-Maktaba al-ʿAṣriyya, 1983), 412–13Google Scholar.
9 The frame narrator addresses the reader directly, but does not participate in the story he tells. See Genette's, Gerard typology in Narrative Discourse, trans. Lewin, J. E. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980), 248Google Scholar.
10 The second narrator who tells her own story and is present inside the story and action. See Genette, , Narrative Discourse, 248Google Scholar.
16 See Boothe, Wayne, The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 3–20Google Scholar.
29 Viewing Khoury's novels in the same light, Yumna al-ʿId writes that they have “a liberating tendency in that the narrator/author is marginalized. He is not oppressive and does not dictate to his characters. At the same time, he is not a hero who possesses and monopolizes the truth.” See al-ʿĀlim, Maḥmūd Amīn, al-ʿĪd, Yumnā, and Sulaymān, Nabīl, ed., “Qatl Mafhūm al-baṭal: Manẓūr Fikrī Yakhluq Namaṭ Bunyatihi fī al-qāṣṣ al-ʿarabī al-muʿāṣir,” Al-Riwāya al-ʿArabiyya bayna al wāqiʿ wa al-idiolojiya (Lattakia liʾ-l-nashr waʾl-tawzīʿ: Dār al-Ḥiwār, 1986), 26Google Scholar.
38 A word is the signifier and the concept or idea it points to is referred to as the signified. See Saussure, Ferdinand de, Course in General Linguistics, trans. Bashin, Wade, ed. Bally, Charles and Secehaye, Albert (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966)Google Scholar. Taking up this point, Derrida asserts that the text should be seen as an endless stream of signifiers, with words only pointing to other words without any final meaning or truth. See Derrida, Jacques, “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences,” in Writing and Difference, trans. Bass, Alan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978)Google Scholar.
41 Accad, Evelyne writes that Khoury, “belonged to the Communist party, [and] fought for the Palestinians at the beginning of the war,” in Sexuality and War: Literary Masks of the Middle East (New York: New York University Press, 1990), 136Google Scholar.
56 Miller, J. Hillis, “Heart of Darkness Revisited,” in Tropes, Parables and Performatives (Durham, NC.: Duke University Press, 1991), 191Google Scholar.
58 In the English translation, it is the son who tells Gandhi rather than the opposite: “‘its all over,’ his son said,” (p. 12). See the original Arabic text: Khoury, , Riḥlat Gandhī, 17Google Scholar.
60 Constituting the main speech of the narrator who generally paraphrases the speeches of other characters rather than quote them verbatim. See Holquist, , ed., The Dialogic Imagination, 262–64Google Scholar.
61 For an interesting discussion of the presentation of character in the contemporary Arabic novel,see Ḥafiz, , “Al-riwāya waʾl-wāqiʿ,” al-Nāqid: 38–39Google Scholar.
62 Accad asserts that for many Lebanese writers who lived the war, “writing becomes a necessity, anoutlet and a catharsis. It helps heal the wounds.” See Accad, , Sexuality and War, 6Google Scholar.
64 In this case, I am using my own translation, which is a more literal version of the original (Khoury, Riḥlat Gandhī, 138Google Scholar). The published translated version (Haydar, , Little Gandhi, 130Google Scholar) reads as follows: “‘Who are you?… You haven't told me.’ ‘I am related to Madame Sabbagha. Her mother is my father's mother's sister’.”
65 The literal translation from Arabic is as follows: “Writer, what a writer, I hope you're not like him” (Haydar, , Little Gandhi, 139Google Scholar).
69 See Hutcheon, Linda, Narcissistic Narrative (London: Routledge, 1980; reprint, 1991), 28Google Scholar.
70 Chatman, Seymour, Story and Discourse (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978), 205Google Scholar.
71 See Currie, Peter, “The Eccentric Self: Anti-Characterization and the Problem of the Subject in American Postmodernist Fiction,” in Contemporary American Fiction, ed. Bradbury, Malcolm and Ro, Sigmund (London: Edward Arnold, 1987), 56Google Scholar.
78 A term coined by Genette that means “taking up… and giving information that should be left aside” This “excess of information or paralepsis, can consist of an inroad into the consciousness of a character in the course of a narrative.” See Genette, , Narrative Discourse, 197Google Scholar.
79 Suwaydān, Sāmī, “Al-Ḥarb waʾl-naṣṣ: al-Wujūh al-Bayḍāʾ li-Ilyās Khūrī: asʾilat al-qātil waʾlqāṣṣ,” in Abḥāthfī al-naṣṣ al-riwāʾī al-ʿarabi (Beirut: Muʾassassat al-Abḥāth al-ʿArabiyya, 1986), 241Google Scholar.