Short Arabic Plays An Anthology by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, ed. (Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2003. 466 pages.)

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Michelle Hartman

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Abstract

Like most of the other anthologies edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Short
Arabic Plays is a collection of translated Arabic literary works focused
around one particular genre. This anthology, part of Jayyusi’s Project for
the Translation of Arabic (PROTA), will bring attention to a dynamic, but
understudied, genre of Arabic literature. This diverse collection consists of
20 short plays by 15 playwrights, demonstrating the breadth of the genre
and its interest not only to scholars and specialists, but also to those concerned
with literature more generally.
One problem with this particular anthology, however, is that Jayyusi’s
seven-page editor’s introduction barely manages to explain the impetus
behind the project, make her acknowledgments and outline the major
themes in short plays in general – let alone contextualize the plays included
in this volume. Although it includes short biographies of the editor, contributors,
and translators (after a brief glossary of Arabic words), there are no
introductions to the individual works or even such bibliographic indications
as their original titles and dates of publication. In contrast, other anthologies
by Jayyusi – for example, Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (Columbia
University Press: 1987) and Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature
(Columbia University Press: 1992) – are accompanied by useful and lengthy
introductions written by Jayyusi herself, as well as brief introductions to
each individual contribution.
Likewise, the anthology most closely related to this one, Modern
Arabic Drama: An Anthology, coedited with Roger Allen ...

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