Abedurrhman Munif "Sharq Al-Mutawast" and Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" Comparative Study

Ahmed Naser Dheab, Nayera El Miniawi


Comparative Literature is considered to be one of the most useful literary studies, whose main concern is comparing two or more works. As the act of writing is humanitarian and humans share almost the same needs and desires it is possible to find out similarities and parallel points in literary texts. Regarding novels as one of the most interesting and effective types of literature, it is highly plausible to explore two thematically similar novels even though they belong to different languages, cultures or even religions.

One of the major themes that have kept writers preoccupied for a long time is the urgent need for freedom and the struggle for it. Thus the descriptive image of the struggle could be found in any literary work in many parts of the world. Meditating this fact leads us to choose two works which embody different sets and views in order to see and assess the extent of similarities between them.

Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon (1940) and Abdurrahman Munif's the East of the Mediterranean (1977), are two novels that describe two prisoners' dilemmas in two political regions. This clearly drives us to the possibility of finding out some common points between the two novels whether in theme(s) or artistic technique.

In his Saarq al Mutawasset East of the Mediterranean as the title is written in Arabic, Munif expresses the struggle of a person who has been taken as a political prisoner; the author describes the image of the prison and the prisoners in an unnamed place somewhere in the east of the Mediterranean. The place is unidentified and it is left to the reader's intuition to decide and guess.

Already Koestler has talked about the same issue in the Darkness at Noon where there is a political prisoner and the types of suffering and humiliations he has been subjected to.

Depending on these common central themes, and the terms of imprisonment experienced by the two prisoners, the researcher feels encouraged to study the two novels from a comparative view point.

Arthur Koestler was born on the 5th of September 1905 in Budagpest and died on the 3rd of March 1983 in London. He was a Hungarian-British author and journalist. His education was in Austria. In 1931 he joined the Communist party of Germany and he resigned in 1938. in 1940 he published his novel Darkness at noon which gained him international fame.

Over the next 43 years from his residence in great Britain, Koestler espoused many political causes and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies, and numerous essays. In 1968, he was awarded the prestigious Sonning Prize "for outstanding contribution to European  culture" and, in 1972, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1976, Kestler was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and, in 19079, with terminal leukemia. In 1983 he and his wife committed suicide at home in London (Wikipedia).

Abdurrhman Munif was born in Jordan in 1933 for a family of Saudi Arabian origin. His Saudi Citizenship was stripped out from him for political reasons. He studied law at Baghdad and Cairo universities and he got a PHD in oil economics at the University of Belgrade. During his oil industry career he served as director of crude oil marketing. In Baghdad he edited a monthly periodical, al-Naft wa al-Tanmiyya, Oil and Development. He later became a full – time writer and spent the rest of his life in Syria. He died on the 24th of January 2004 (al-bab).

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