Druze Reincarnation in Fiction: Anīs Yaḥyà’s Novel "Jasad kāna lī" as a Source for Literary Anthropology

  • Lorenz Nigst Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Abstract

In the Druze outlook, each human soul completes successive life-circuits as different human beings. If one of these human beings dies, the soul immediately migrates to the body of a newborn child. Normally, it is unknown who the soul was previously. However, in exceptional cases, mostly young children remember and “speak” about a previous life that usually came to an unexpected and tragic end. This also represents the backdrop of Anīs Yaḥyà’s novel Jasad kāna lī, which is set in a Druze context and revolves around a murder case and a little girl that remembers her death and names her murderer. The subject of transmigration is omnipresent in the novel. As this article seeks to show, this turns the novel into a highly relevant source for anthropological research into the Druze understanding of transmigration. The novel not only corroborates respective findings, but also complements them and thus contributes to a fuller understanding of the social and discursive presence of transmigration and “speaking” in Druze contexts. At the same time, anthropological research seems essential for a more profound understanding of this particular thematic dimension of the novel.
Published
2019-08-01