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Middle Eastern Literature: Arabic  
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Modern Attitudes toward Homoeroticism

The expression of homoerotic sentiment, in various forms, remained a constant of Arabic literature into the nineteenth century. In modern times, and in particular with the impact of the Victorian mores of colonizing Europeans, respectable society in the Arab world has on the whole become hostile to homosexuality and embarrassed by its prominence in the literary tradition. Recent conservative religious movements have only reinforced this negative stance.

Nevertheless, a few writers have broached the topic in their fiction, and though they tend to treat it more as a psychological and societal problem than as a cause for celebration, they do depict the survival of traditional attitudes alongside the more recent puritanism in their societies.

Particularly noteworthy are two novels with homosexual subplots by the Egyptian Nobelist Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley and Sugar Street. Instances of homosexual themes in the extensive Arab Francophone literature include The Seven-Headed Serpent by Ali Ghanem and The Great Repudiation by Rachid Boudjedra, both Algerians, and Proud Beggars by the Egyptian Albert Cossery.

Everett K. Rowson

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Ahmad al-Tifashi. Les délices des coeurs. Trans. René R. Khawam. Paris: Phoebus, 1981. Sections dealing with homosexuality trans. from French by Edward A. Lacey as The Delight of Hearts. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1988.

Arazi, Albert. Amour divin et amour profane dans l'Islam médiéval à travers le Diwan de Khalid al-Katib. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1990.

Bell, Joseph Norman. Love Theory in Later Hanbalite Islam. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1979.

Dunne, Bruce W. "Homosexuality in the Middle East: An Agenda for Historical Research." Arab Studies Quarterly 12.3-4 (1990): 55-82.

Giffen, Lois Anita. Theory of Profane Love among the Arabs: The Development of the Genre. New York: New York University Press, 1971.

Hutchins, William Maynard, trans. Nine Essays of Al-Jahiz. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

Ibn Hazm. The Ring of the Dove. Trans. A. J. Arberry. London: Luzac, 1953.

Lane, Erskine, trans. In Praise of Boys: Moorish Poems from Al-Andalus. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1975.

Marsot, Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid, ed. Society and the Sexes in Medieval Islam. Malibu, Calif.: Undena Press, 1979.

Matar, Nabil I. "Homosexuality in the Early Novels of Nageeb Mahfouz." Journal of Homosexuality 26 (1994): 77-90.

Monteil, V., trans. Abu-Nuwas, Le Vin, le vent, la vie. Paris: Editions Sinbad, 1979.

Mouhammad al-Nawadji. La prairie des gazelles: éloge des beaux adolescents. Trans. René R. Khawam. Paris: Phoebus, 1989.

Murray, Stephen O. And Will Roscoe, eds. Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Raven, Willem. Ibn Dawud al-Isbahani and His Kitab al-Zahra. Amsterdam, 1989.

Rowson, Everett K. "The Categorization of Gender and Sexual Irregularity in Medieval Arabic Vice Lists." Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity. Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub, eds. New York: Routledge, 1991. 50-79.

_____. "The Effeminates of Early Medina." Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (1991): 671-693.

_____. "Two Homoerotic Narratives from Mamluk Literature: al-Safadi's Law`at al-shaki and Ibn Daniyal's al-Mutayyam." For the Beauty of a Fawn: Reinterpreting Homoerotic Imagery in the Arabo-Islamic Tradition. J. W. Wright, Jr., ed. Forthcoming.

Shaykh Nafzawi. The Glory of the Perfumed Garden. London: Granada Publishing, 1978.

Wright, J. W. And Everett K. Rowson, eds. Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rowson, Everett K.  
    Entry Title: Middle Eastern Literature: Arabic  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 29, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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