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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Women’s engagement in producing the early Arabic novel goes beyond authorship: it involves readership, girls’ education, venues, sensitivities, and gender difference as a topic in public discourse. Fiction became one of several genres for articulating female views of self and society amidst the stresses of late colonial modernity. This chapter first considers the venues where women’s fiction was produced and marketed, along with debates over the projected effects of fiction reading and the approach adopted by the first generation of Arab women novelists. It then discusses how women gained experience at fiction writing through translation-adaptation before turning to novels that focus on gender politics and the love plot. It also highlights the work of ‘Afīfa Karam to emphasize the ambiguities or tensions of early Arabic novels as women authors sought to balance gender expectations with the era’s discourses of domestic duty.

Keywords: women, Arabic novel, gender, women’s fiction, fiction, translation, adaptation, gender politics, ‘Afīfa Karam, women authors

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