Wavering Identity: A Pirandellean Reading of Saadallah Wannus's The King Is the King


Aleya A. Said


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

In an article entitled "Social Origins of the Authoritarian State in the Arab East," Khaldoun Hasan al-Naqeeb has investigated the various reasons that prevented the Arabs from achieving longsought- for "national aspirations" for more than half a century. Among the many reasons, al-Naqeeb ascribes this inability to achieve such a common goal to the military regimes that came to power in the 1950s and 1960s. These regimes, he claims, monopolized the sources of authority and social power and completely eliminated "all democratic institutions and freedoms under the pretext of reform' ."1 Their sluggish performance and their failure to meet the socioeconomic demands of their subjects, in addition to the widespread corruption in the public and government sectors, led to growing discontent among the people.2 The dissatisfaction was in tum reflected in the literatures of these countries since intellectuals and literary figures believed in the risky, yet necessary role of the writers as leaders and "guides" of their people.3 Thus, in his article "The Masks: Design of Reality and Dream," Abdul Fattah Kalaagy comments on the unanimity of issues expressed by Arab playwrights of different countries in their dramatic works. He remarks that most contemporary Arab playwrights deal more or less with the same social and political issues which have recently become the "daily bread of the Arabs." This, he states, has turned their many voices into one "loud and far-reaching" voice.4

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