I don't think it is possible to do an "Arabic take" -- on anything, let alone the Quartet, for all the usual reasons. My view is that it's something of a strange notion (to think) that there is a standard "Arab" take on things, especially literature. But I'd like to suggest here that it may be possible to examine the text of Nile Shadows, for example, to determine the degree of, say, Orientalist, or, [choose your fav post neo modernist litcrit poison here], thinking permeating the text in the context of his description of Cairo in the early 40s. I mean: is this version more authentic than Billy Wilder's Allied war propaganda flic "5 Graves to Cairo", Ondaatje's sensual caricatures in "The English Patient", or the sections in Pynchon's V that take place in the Cairo of that era (I am think here of the passages involving the Ezbekieh Gardens, much of which appear to have been, um, lifted, from some Baedeker). Taking political sides on, for example, the question of the post nakba subjugation and displacement of the Palestinians is not really the heart of it for Whittemore (at least I haven't come across his empathy to it in his books): let's face it: he was, after all, an ex American spook, of white shoe Yalie origin, who ended up doing, after coming in from the khamaseen (with apologies to Le Carre), the usual live cheaply somewhere in the exotic (Middle) East and cook up some phantasmagorical gum Arabico literary concoction, in between sips of uzo, araak, & (no doubt) puffs of Lebanese red mixed in with his cheroot ceegars. But in his particular case, he actually wrote real books -- instead of just idly spending his time in Crete (it could have been Malta, or anywhere else like that for that matter), and elsewhere, shacking up with various temporary, arty squeezes, living on the cheap off his CIA pension, and delivering unpublishable riffs and rants disguised as novelistic manuscripts. Instead, he produced Sinai Tapestry in this manner, which actually got published (thanks largerly to a Yalie connection), and which I first came across in '78. With all of this said, the point of my original post, when I sat down to think about it in replying to your kind post, gets at to whether the Quartet bears more than a tangential relationship to its actual subject matter, one that resonates as authentic with Arabic readers or readers of Arabic descent, and if so, what is it? Maybe understanding this may have a bearing on developing an appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of his work in these books.
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