This essay examines the politics of love in the Arabic novel: how love is used to envision a more just and egalitarian society. The marriage market, courtship practices, and kinship ties—which propagate and calcify gender and class hierarchies—prove formidable obstacles to the realization of the utopian vision of social equality. Love ideology becomes a means of defying these conventions, conceived of as a powerful force breaking down the hegemony of the upper classes and male privilege, challenging their sense of propriety and entitlement, and restructuring society according to more egalitarian principles. This essay contests the dichotomization of romantic and politically committed literature in Arabic literary criticism, and likewise, corresponding assumptions about the division between the personal and political, private and public presumably coded in the novel.


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pp. 186-205
Launched on MUSE
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