Dictating the Narrative and Resisting Dictatorships in Saᶜdī’s Novel al-Aᶜẓam

Sami Alkyam


This article examines Ibrāhīm Saᶜdī’s novel, al-Aᶜẓam, in the context of dictator novels. I argue that Saᶜdī utilizes the forms and modes of narration to dictate, or tell, a story against dictatorship and resist oppressive domination. The novel, I suggest, marginalizes and parodies the voice of the dictator and centralizes the voice of marginalized characters in the overall narrative structure by utilizing a “dictatorial” form which permits who can and cannot speak. And by assuming the role of a dictator, the novel creates room for maneuver to not only resist closures but also to represent and critique the dissemination and repression of national history under autocratic and repressive powers. The article also shows how writers exploit the reader’s ability to relive the past vicariously through the act of reading to suggest the implicit demythologization of dictators.


al-Aᶜẓam; Dictators; Dictator novel; Ibrāhīm Saᶜdī; Narrative discourse

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/10119


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