The novel of sadness in “The Burning Field”

“Wires” – Dr. Amna Al-Nusairi *:

In his novel (The Burning Field), its author (Rayan Al-Shaibani) proposes a striking model for writing. From the first moment, it seems that he represents his novel project based on the data of a specific historical period. in the last decades of the decay and fall of the Ottoman Empire. and the end of its presence in Yemen, but he avoids the documentary that accompanied many historical fictional works, and opts for that type of writing that transforms historical treasures into creative creative writing … which makes the fictional material a reason to reconsider history and interrogate results and interpretations of the original, and existential questions about The origin of conflicts, their further meaning and the nature of tyranny.

In the beginning, the novel opens to a scene from the life of the last Ottoman governor in Yemen – which appears in the name of Al-Saeeda – and then the author brings us back to the details of his education, his past and his life. in France to form a clear picture of the central personality of the governor … representing an ambiguous and complex mixture of dual identities, This being, defeated in distress and at the same time, is a product of his time, which testifies has of the conflict of two civilizations.The Ottoman Empire dies and withdraws from the forefront of political life to make way for the victor. It is a great transformation, politically, culturally, socially and value.

Unconventionally, the novel relies on an interesting procedure, where the reader encounters a subtle manipulation of time and narrative traditions. The narrative technique is based on the alternation and overlap of times, as the author mentions a few preceding incidents. And then go back to the present time of the character, so that important facts are revealed in the middle of the story.

However, this transition was marked by many years of wars, collapses, destruction and chaos. Therefore, the protagonist, whose fortunes lead him to represent his colonial state in the happy country, is attracted by his sickly subjective impulses and identity disorder, both sexually and culturally. Just as he tries to hide his homosexuality, he suppresses his cultural trends and preferences for arts such as music. Because it would be seen as a denial of his mother culture and a form of weak affiliation, westernization and fluidity. However, military education and uniforms failed to soften his feminine nature and gentleness which made him the object of ridicule by his followers did not make.

“His Parisian times, which he spent between the parts of arms, kept bothering him, as a kind of reminder of hell, without knowing why he should have been spared. At that time he decided to approach himself with the disguised practice of professions that favored his civic tendency, playing in the twilight succulents at the entrance The art course that crosses the Seine ”(1).

In a journey marked by loss since its early beginnings, the protagonist is introduced to (the happy) immune to the contempt and contempt of the people of the country, plagued by greed and greed, and the narrator managed to describe the alienated intruder’s inner way of relying on external characteristics, the suppressor’s awareness is inseparable from awareness movement history.

The beginning of the journey, however, is not like the last, for the elegant victor grows prematurely old and his life is undermined by the decay of his condition, which is an apparent paradox.The man who has entered happy arrogance and arrogance is not defeated in a military battle, but was defended by neglect, old age and distress until he perished at the hands of the partner of tyranny.

In (The Burning Field) rulers are incarnated as common beings, the king who rules a part of the Holy Lands is also a monstrous ugly mortal in spirit and image, with a great deal of blindness of insight, excessive in violence and arrogance with subjects, his greed leads to murder, money and women.

The inner tyrant, as he appears, is no less ugly and ugly than the colonizer. Rather, he is more brutal in enforcing his legitimacy through superstitious pretexts, and appealing to ideological combinations used as a means of coercion and persuasion to the public to satisfy his ambitions. Each of them is part of it.

The (happy) is almost the actual implicit bearer of all the incidents and characters, though it has emerged in the novel, but the story is based on this semantic space.

The narrator presents the biography of the country and the tyranny and decadence of the invader without exaggeration or rhetoric.The novelist tended to capture the story from an attractive angle represented in the following journey of the Ottoman occupier from beginning to end, and through the single dramatic thread the rest of the story crystallized.

There are crosses and similarities between the inner tyrant and his strange counterpart, both of them are human monsters, a flawed masculinity is matched by a deformed masculinity, they do not distinguish and have no preference for either of them, they lack all spirituality and moral values, they believe in nothing and trust no one, their faith is money and instincts, but they succeed in enforcing influence. Subject the subjects thanks to oppression and lethal tools, and it happens that they commit themselves and exchange experience when the case calls for intense damage and prosecution and to share the money of levies and taxes and organize the mechanisms of looting to get the most out of seized the wealth of the land which they impoverished, and which often accepts the flatness of the king, his backwardness, his poverty, the primitiveness of his needs and his closure, and the other condones On the exaltation of the stranger and the exoticism of its traditions coming from a distant world.

In the novel’s escalation, there are no popular heroic deeds or a prominent presence of active characters, except for (Dahrat Al-Rina), the woman who leads a rebellion of the peasants as a remedy for the burning field, as the popular space becomes a margin, crowds starving barefoot people who believe in religious sayings that oblige them to obey the ruler, the tools of abuse and impoverishment double their regression They are reluctant to confront their executioner for fear of further abuse. This is the condition of the happy people. The narrator describes the crowd that gathers to receive the new governor: “The rows of praises with tambourines, whose skins radiate a stinging stench. Knowledge students, the future prophets, run barefoot with bags of bread and their lessons. The blind jurists sent “to seek blessings from the governor, and there are wandering women whose headscarves are draped over their heads, and they show their ways in the beginning. The same tradition has decided that they were blind” (2).

As is clear, the rulers divided the subjects into soldiers and peasants, and some of the people controlled over others, and in the midst of a life full of severe scarcity, famine and the rule of superstition, which al-Saeeda to the lowest level of decline, all that is left for this country is only for its people to take revenge on its people.

The novel (The Burning Field) is set on dark mood and bitterness, and leaves history with intense sadness, and it tells of general murder, tyranny, the seriousness of injustice, the propagation of destruction and the tragedy of the fateful and distorted souls of people inhabited by permanent impurity.

Unconventionally, the novel relies on an interesting procedure, where the reader encounters a subtle manipulation of time and narrative traditions. does not follow and disturb the coherence of the narrative structure, or the narrative development. Rather, it gives the narrative space its full scope in liberating the narrative from the hierarchy of events and breaking the areas of expectation. to trust and seek pleasure in reflecting on the transformations and small stories he spreads in the joints of the novel, as well as capturing the semantic richness of the historical situation itself, and perhaps this is one of the most prominent features of the work.

In Rayan al-Shaibani’s novel, language does not abandon his fascination, as he deals with language as a dynamic and renewed concept, and influences the use of the magical energy of words and their hidden meanings, to ultimately create a creative to complete text. levels.


1 * Rayan Al Shaibani, The Burning Field, House of Lines and Shadows, Amman – Jordan, 2021, p. 20.

2 * Ibid., P. 76.

* Visual artist, critic and academic

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