Memory for Forgetfulness August, Beirut, 1982 Mahmoud Darwish Translated, with an Introduction by Ibrahim Muhawi With a new Foreword by Sinan Antoon University of California Press Berkeley | Los Angeles | London.
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Acknowledgments I would like to express my gratitude to the following people, without whose contribution this work would not be what it is. To Emna Moalla, my colleague at the Faculte des Lettres de Ia Manouba (Universite de Tunis-1), for giving unstintingly of her time in checking various drafts of the translation against the original. Her mastery of both Arabic and English is such as to inspire confidence; and, ~ith a work like this one, this mastery was needed. To Sheila Levine, of UC Press, for initial encouragement to proceed. To Lynne Withey and Stephanie Fay, my present editors at UC Press, for dedicated enthusiasm, follow-up, and care with the manuscript; and to the editorial staff at UC Press, who con tinue to uphold the standard of excellence in book production. To Ahmad Dahbour, a Palestinian poet and friend of Dar wish, for being there when needed. To my good friend, Nasreddine Hajjaj, a Palestinian writer and son of Ain Hilwe refugee camp in South Lebanon, for help ing to see this work through and for providing invaluable assis tance. .
Foreword | | | | | | Mahmoud Darwish died in 2008, leaving behind an astound- ingly rich oeuvre. Although predominantly remembered and cel- ebrated for his poetry, his prose works are equally unique and incandescent. His absence has only intensiﬁed the reverence and respect his writings command all over the world. Just as he him- self wrote in his poignant self-elegy, In the Presence of Absence, “a second life, promised by language, continues” in us, his readers, as we return to his words again and again.
Introduction In the Arab world Mahmoud Darwish is acknowledged as one of the greatest living poets. He has been awarded a number of international literary prizes, and has read his poetry to audiences in many countries around the world. When he gives a reading in any Arab country today, his audience runs into the thou sands, with many people turned away for lack of space. He has so far published fourteen volumes of poetry, the first of which, Olive Leaves, appeared in 1964, and the latest, Eleven Planets, in 1993. His Diwan, or collected poems, comprising the first nine volumes, has been reprinted numerous times. He also has seven prose works to his name, including this one. Many poems and articles published in various magazines, as well as a number of television and newspaper interviews, have not yet been collected. Selections from his poetry have appeared in translation in at least twenty languages, but, considering his stature, he is not as well known in the English-speaking world as he should be. This work, Memory for Forgetfulness (Dha:kira li-1- nisya:n), which grew out of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that began on 6 June 1982, originally appeared in 1986, under the title The Time: Beirut I The Place: August, in AI Karmel, the presti-.