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Searching for the Navel: Love Voices in the Poetry of Adonis

Chapter in book
Authors Tetz Rooke
Published in Desire, Pleasure and the Taboo: New Voices and Freedom of Expression in Contemporary Arabic Literature / edited by Sobhi Boustani [and others].
Pages 169-183
ISBN 978-88-6227-702-0
Publisher Fabrizio Serra Editore
Place of publication Pisa
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 169-183
Language en
Keywords Adonis, modern Arabic poetry, al-jasad, body, Arabic love poetry, Transformations of the lover, Baudelaire, Abu Nuwas, Tammuzian poets
Subject categories Arabic language, General Literature Studies


In this article I examine a work of love poetry by one of the key figures of Arab modernism, Adonis (b. 1930). The aim is to study the textual voices in his late collection "Awwal al-jasad aakhir al-baHr" (Beginning of the Body End of the Sea, 2003) and compare them with those that speak in his earlier works. Explicit representations of sexual desire and pleasure have been a standing feature of Adonis's poetry throughout his career. I argue that although the poet expresses some fresh visions and original emotions in "Awwal al-jasad", the language, imagery and themes echo previous texts remarkably much. Ultimately this continuity in Adonis's production leads me to question the notion that sexual outspokenness is an altogether new phenomenon in modern Arabic literature and suggest some relevant historical links.

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