Using Life and abusing life in the trial of Ahmed Naji

Text World Theory, Adab and the ethics of reading

Authors

  • Alison Gibbons Sheffield Hallam University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jld.35809

Keywords:

Adab, Ahmed Naji, narrative ethics, Text World Theory

Abstract

This article undertakes a cognitive stylistic investigation of the trial of Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji, who was prosecuted - and subsequently imprisoned - for 'disturbing public morals' by depicting sexual content in his novel Istikhdam al-Hayat [Using Life] (2014). The article presents a schematic model of the narrative roles, across narrative levels and text-world ontologies, mind-modelled by readers in literary experiences. This model forms the foundation of the analysis which is consequently able to map the interrelationships between the roles on enunciation and reception and to account for the complex array of ethical positions - relative to each narrative role - taken up by readers. The article offers a nuanced account of the ethics of reading which, by pioneering the application of stylistics to explore an Arabic cultural context, can also capture cultural difference. Ultimately, through situated analysis, this article uncovers the ideological forces involved in Ahmed Naji's trial and the disciminatory practices therein.

Author Biography

Alison Gibbons, Sheffield Hallam University

Alison Gibbons is Reader in Contemporary Stylistics at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Her research consistently explores innovative narratives using a cognitive stylistic approach that, at times, also includes empirical reception data from real readers or participants. The narrative texts she currently focuses on are metamodernist fictions, contemporary autofictions, and fictions on and of the Arab Spring.

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Published

2019-07-18

How to Cite

Gibbons, A. (2019). Using Life and abusing life in the trial of Ahmed Naji: Text World Theory, Adab and the ethics of reading. Journal of Language and Discrimination, 3(1), 4–31. https://doi.org/10.1558/jld.35809

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Section

Articles