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"Perhaps I was a Lebanese Hamlet": Uncanny Modernity and the Ontological Un-Being of the Modern Arab Male in Ghada Samman's The Square Moon

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date21/06/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventPost-Millennial MENAWA: New Approaches to Literature, Translation, and Creative Expression - Lancaster (online)
Duration: 21/06/202222/06/2022


ConferencePost-Millennial MENAWA
Internet address


This paper demonstrates that uncanny, exilic estrangement in Ghada Samman’s short story collection The Square Moon (1994 [1998]) presents an opportunity for a radical re-imagining of the Arab intellectual as a woman, which registers the full scope of disharmony between theory and praxis that epitomises the intellectual’s melancholic anxiety. Repurposing Lacan’s statement la femme n’existe pas, by which he asserts that Woman lacks a signifier in the Symbolic order, I argue that Samman’s perennially alienated Lebanese émigrés indicate that there is no signifier for the “modern” Arab male. Her stories are replete with Arab men unable to navigate the trappings of modernity, resulting in the infliction of trauma on those around them. Having left behind a Symbolic order (culture, laws, traditions) they understood and in which they were integrated and privileged, exile presents its own Symbolic order in which these men have no place. Thus, the diasporic site is where the modern Arab male is made to face his own ontological un-being.