International Journal for Muslim World Studies (IJMWS)

Formerly known as International Journal of Muslim Unity (IJMU)

COMPLEMENTARY THEMES: PATTERNS OF CULTURAL EXPRESSION IN THE FICTION OF ÙAYEB ØÓLIH

COMPLEMENTARY THEMES: PATTERNS OF CULTURAL EXPRESSION IN THE FICTION OF ÙAYEB ØÓLIH

 Hassan A. El-Nagar*

 

ABSTRACT*

This paper attempts to analyze the representations of culture in two major works by Tayeb Salih, the most prominent Sudanese writer, namely: Season of Migration to the North (hereafter referred to simply as Season) and The Wedding of Zein (hereafter referred to as Wedding). The author does not read the story in Season as a clash between the Arabic/Islamic civilization and the West but as a result of the identity crisis experienced by the central character. In analyzing these two novels the author does not fully subscribe to the notion of the text as an isolated, self-contained, self-reflexive entity; nor does he examine the major theme in these works divorced from their historical and cultural contexts. By doing so, the paper juxtaposes the central issue of culture by exposing the major characters in these works to the life cycles of birth, childhood, marriage and death. Even within Season itself, the paper will attempt to expose the visible contrast between the characteristics of saÑÊd, the narrator, and that of MaÍjoub. The paper numerates the different factors that contribute to the hero’s plight in Season. The author’s contention is that while cultural alienation is responsible for the protagonist’s tragedy in Season, it is primarily cultural contentment that leads to the celebration of life, of difference and tolerance in The Wedding of Zein.