Egypt 1919: The Revolution in Literature and Film by: Dina Heshmat, (Edinburgh University Press: London), 2020. 248pp
The Edinburgh University Press has just released a new book on the 1919 Revolution in Egypt, which marked its centennial last year with the publication of many books studying different aspects of the events of 1919 and their impact on Egyptian history.
The new book from Edinburgh University Press is entitled Egypt 1919: The Revolution in Literature and Film. Its author is an assistant professor of Arabic Literature at the American University in Cairo.
The book traces portrayals of the 1919 Revolution in literary and cinematic narratives, re-examines the 1919 Revolution in light of the momentous events of 2011, and draws on theoretical approaches in memory studies to investigate the construction of 1919 as a moment of ecstatic nationalist unity.
The author analyses and contextualises representations of the 1919 Revolution as narrated in a wide range of novels, films, plays, memoirs and television dramas, and provides a new analysis of canonical novels by Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfiq Al-Hakim.
The 1919 anti-colonial revolution was a key moment in modern Egyptian history and a historical reference point in Egyptian culture across the century to follow. According to the description provided by the Edinburgh University Press, the author, Dina Heshmat, argues that literature and film have played a central role in the making of its memory. She highlights the processes of remembering and forgetting that have contributed to shaping a dominant imaginary about 1919 in Egypt, coined by successive political and cultural elites.
As Heshmat seeks to understand how and why so many voices have been relegated to the margins, she reinserts elements into the dominant narrative. This opens up a new perspective on the legacy of 1919 in Egypt, inviting readers to meet marginalised voices of the revolution and to reconnect with its layered emotional fabric.
*Dina Heshmat is the author of Cairo in Modern and Contemporary Egyptian Literature (Supreme Council of Culture in Egypt, 2007).