Arabic Literature ‘At Its Peak’?

So sayeth Marie Therese AbdulMessih, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Kuwait University. She was quoted by The Kuwait Times, which yesterday jumped on the popular question of whether Arabic is dying.

I found AbdulMessih’s ideas about the Arabic language a little difficult to follow: The language is not dying because it’s at it’s peak (and thus in danger of imminent slide and death)? But (she says) the language is also frozen in time, in a state of non-development because there are too many rules and a lack of indigenous Arabic philosophy.

And the evidence of this peak? AbdulMessih said that there is great literary production these days and a number of literary prizes. But the problem is (yes, of course), the lack of readers.

“I blame the media for that,” she said. “How many TV shows are shown on Arab channels about books or writers that you can think of?”

Umm… People would read more if there were TV programs about books?

She did have one quote that I found unfortunately on target, at least where Egypt is concerned:

There’s this belief that only losers study at arts and literature colleges, and that the most losers go the college of Arabic language.


  1. Dear Marcia,
    I do not tend to agree with the reason why we lack readers is because we do not have channels with more shows on books… !!!!! In Egypt we have more than 56% of people who can not read or write and the educational system we have which does not encourage children to read or do anything other than studying the school books… not only schools but parents as well they hate to see books other than school ones. The problem is much more serious than this… to blame on shows on books.. need to dig the root cause and fix it.

    Thank you so much for this blog. Keep up the great work.

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