Little has been written about the Lebanese-American writer and visual artist Etel Adnan’s The Arab Apocalypse (1989), although its hybridization of poetry and visual art is singular in her oeuvre, and interest in her writing and visual art has been increasing significantly over the last decade. This essay considers the role of the speaker in the poem in the context of Language poetry’s critique of the lyric subject; arguments regarding subject positions in representations of war; and Derrida’s theory of suicidal autoimmunitary aggression. I address the limits of some of the previous scholarship on Adnan’s work, which have often tended to read simpler statements about identity and/or postcolonial politics out of her profoundly complex texts. I then consider her own career and reception as a writer and artist whose biography and work spans multiple languages and nations (Lebanon, France, and the United States), and I explore her decision in the 1980s to abandon French for English. I elucidate how The Arab Apocalypse, which was composed during the Lebanese Civil War, serves as a compelling model for literature in the age of the “global war on terror.”


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pp. 498-521
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