Non-canonical Arabic Detective Fiction: The Beginnings of the Genre
The focus of this paper is Arabic detective fiction, which began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thanks to the broad-scope enterprise of translations, and the subsequent development of an authentic Arabic detective literature in the early 1960s. This paper traces diachronically the emergence of this popular genre at an entirely non-canonical level, in Egypt in particular, and examines its thematic characteristics. The paper also examines the causes of the lack of canonical detective literature until the early 1980s. It argues that Arabic detective literature, canonical and non-canonical alike, is a true reflection of the power relations and the social, political and cultural struggles in the Arab world. It further claims that Arabic detective literature is one of the most important literary strata in modern Arab literature, through which we can clearly discern changes in values and esthetics in modern Arab society, and examine the relations between money and ruling power in Egypt as a mirror of the entire Arab world and the connection between literature, preservation and the undermining of Arab law and social order.
Key words: Non-canonical Arabic detective writing, Arabic popular literature, Detective fiction, Crime fiction.
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