“Rejoice, O My Heart”: On Narrative and Society’s Representations

Novelist Alawiya Sobh has published a new novel titled “Rejoice, O My Heart,” recently published by Dar Al-Adab, with a cover designed by artist, Najah Taher. The title is one of the important thresholds for the text, according to Gerard Genet, since it is the door that attracts the recipient and drives him to think about the content of the literary achievement, whatever the type. The title here refers us to the thought of Umm Kulthum’s song, which is repeatedly mentioned in more than one place in the novel. It also indicates the need to build possible joy, as the novelist lives in the distance between the Lebanese reality and what it is, and the imaginary that every Lebanese who has lived through the civil war and injustice in the crises that his country has gone through and continues to this day.

“It was mostly my constant feeling that I was out of place” / “Exile is a compelling force that does not break through man and his place of origin, between the soul and his true homeland, and the sorrow that results from this . disconnection cannot be overcome. Whatever the achievements of exile, they are always subject to the sense of loss.” With these quotes about alienation, exile, music and others, Alawiya Sobh began her novel, as if inviting her reader to the subject of the novel, before she began to narrate the events in a smooth way, where the characters play their roles within two successive times played out: the past tense or the internal recall, where the novelist completes the events and refers to the restored moments. main character, Ghassan, his past life in his homeland and his relationships, and between the present time, where he met Christen in exile, loved her and married her. The worlds of the novel run through this main character, around whom the events revolve in the spatial spaces in which the characters played their roles between homeland and exile.

New questions

The novelist poses several questions accompanied by deep feelings and many concerns in this novel. This question of identity, belonging, a person’s relationship with his homeland, fear of fate, and the conflict that a person lives between two worlds on which the narrative is built is answered. The events overlap as the author excels in describing the issues of youth and adolescents, the rejection of reality and trying to change, and the relationship of parents with children and couples with each other.

So here we are facing two generations: the generation of parents and the generation of children, with different stages, ways of thinking and behaving. The overlapping lives of the father, mother and six children are depicted, as if we are here in front of a complex and interconnected painting. Fiction reveals the components of society and the nature of characters through dialogue or storytelling and narration.

Ghassan, the romantic and dreamy personality, is the musician or player who represents the image of every creative, sensitive person related to music. The suffering of his country in himself and the social and family circumstances has a reaction against everything that is oriental, as he decided to leave the East and play oriental instruments in search of a new connection with the West, so he starts playing the western instruments. As for Nour, she is Ghassan’s love. She married and traveled, then returned divorced because she refused to share her husband’s bed.

So Ghassan traveled with the help of his friend Saeed, whom he met while studying at the American University in Beirut, and his destination was New York, so he worked as a teacher at a music institute and in an Italian restaurant played, where he meets Christen, who is years older than him, and she is a professor of philosophy and Sufism and a lover of oriental heritage whose personality and style he will admire. Think of her and will later marry her.

The author has a narrative vision that portrays the image of the main character in which all the events in the two mentioned times and places are connected, since she has mastered the pronoun game within the framework of a language close to the recipient, and a little took vocabulary. from his society and language. Here the inequality between the characters also occurred in terms of culture and knowledge.

Ghassan’s dream was not big. This young man, like any other young man, seeks his right to a life with a minimum level of stability. This is what he was looking for and did not find in a Lebanese society ruled by division and conflicts. which soon disappear from him until they reappear and destroy the dreams of his youth. But despite all this, we see Ghassan’s confusion in exile, and it is represented between return and no return. This is shown by the narration on his tongue in a conversation between him and his friend Saeed at the beginning of the exile stage. took place. where his strong desire to forget the past and change the lifestyle appears.

Ghassan: I’m afraid to stay and I’m afraid to return, and if I stay here all my life, I’m afraid that my country won’t know me and I won’t know it.

Saeed: Alienation is living in your place, among your family and in your country and feeling it.

In another remarkable situation, Alawiya Sobh narrated on the authority of Ghassan: “He does not want the woman to be submissive to him. He has always hated the submissiveness of his mother and the submissive women in his country,” so that the state of rejecting his father’s behavior and nature, and in return rejecting the state of subjugation experienced by women represented by the mother, appears as if he refuses to have a family similar to his own build Or reproduce. The woman, who has lost her identity and become indecisive, lives in dark areas imposed on her by her husband. She made no effort to free herself from his authority in a patriarchal society, but instead practiced patience and tried to please him despite his cruelty and repeated betrayals of her so that she would not lose him.

“Ghassan looks with sadness and anger at the sticks of different shapes and sizes hanging on the kitchen wall in front of his mother, always reminding her of her punishment, as the father says: What, daughter of a dog, with which stick are you doing do murderers want to eat? While his tongue drips honey with women.”

A composite panel of six brothers

We stand before a composite painting of six brothers of different temperaments and personalities who form images of societies, and we find them in every time and place. Ghassan watches them, realizes their moods and choices, and knows that he is different from them. He is well aware of the state of identity confusion that his brother Selim experiences, when he looks at himself strangely in the mirror, observes his feminine movements and the softness of his body and compares himself to his brothers. He also mourns his mother’s situation and her suffering with his father’s impressions. His brother Tariq, the photographer, is always busy with him, so he thinks about which front to photograph the war victims and his scenes. He also knows very well that Afif belongs to the extremist organization, since he killed his brother Jamal and is absent from home for a whole year, and only his brother Mahmoud brings him back for the sake of the mother.

Afif’s comrades in the organization say:

“Kill your brother, do not be afraid. Jihad is more important than unbelieving brothers. Fighting in the way of God should not frustrate your determination.”

In this fictional work, there are details about art in general, as the difference and diversity of taste between Eastern and Western music occurs, so that the reader pays attention to the knowledge that the novelist provides about it through a dialogue that took place on the lips van Ghassan and Christen on Eastern and Western music…

Narrative expectations

Through the plot we find answers to the questions of reality that they impose on man with their simplicity and complexity. And plot construction plays a role in shaking up narrative expectations, according to Roland Barthes. Perhaps the recipient of this novel will continue reading, following the sequence of events as they intensify and be aligned along an interesting ascending line to reach the last third of the novel, where he and the author will come to an important point reached, which the death of the father, the return of Ghassan after a long absence, and his marriage to Rula. The author conveys scenes in which internal dialogues are visible that reveal the personalities, concerns and thoughts of the characters. We look at the monologue and the struggle that Ghassan experienced, for example after getting on the plane after returning from his father ‘s funeral, married to the Lebanese Rula. The confusion arose between Rula and Christen, and these events may not be expected by the reader.

If we look at the society, the customs, traditions and social conditions, which were not isolated from the political conditions, are clear, since we note the mention of the civil war, this war, which was not absent in the narrations of Alawi Sob not.

In the end, it remains true to say that this novel reveals an Alawite culture in Subuh and his awareness of the dimensions of events through narration and the highlighting of issues that keep pace with reality through his mastery of narrative storytelling techniques.

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