The Duality of the Victim and Torturer in Two Works by Fāḍil Al-‘Azzāwī

This article focuses on the cycle of violence that has characterized modern Iraq, with emphasis on the complex relationship between the victim and the torturer as depicted in al-‘Azzāwī’s novels al-Qal'a al-khāmisa (The Fifth Castle) and Madīna min ramād (City of Ashes). Al-‘Azzāwī paints Iraq&...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Journal of Semitic studies
Main Author: Elimelekh, Geula
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Oxford University Press [2017]
In: Journal of Semitic studies
Year: 2017, Volume: 62, Issue: 2, Pages: 447-464
IxTheo Classification:KBL Near East and North Africa
NBE Anthropology
ZC Politics in general
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
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Summary:This article focuses on the cycle of violence that has characterized modern Iraq, with emphasis on the complex relationship between the victim and the torturer as depicted in al-‘Azzāwī’s novels al-Qal'a al-khāmisa (The Fifth Castle) and Madīna min ramād (City of Ashes). Al-‘Azzāwī paints Iraq's modern history as an endless cycle of violent revolutions and counter-revolutions. In each period, there is a group of revolutionaries who rebel against a tyrannical regime and eventually manage to seize power, upon which they become the new tyrants, brutally punishing their former rivals and suppressing any opposition. This means that the line between oppressor and oppressed, or between torturer and victim, can be very blurred, for today's victim can be tomorrow's torturer, and vice versa. Al-‘Azzāwī shows that the line can be blurred in another way as well: a single individual can be both a victim and a torturer at the same time. Thus, the torturer in a tyrannical regime, who has no choice but perform his terrible job, sometimes suffers almost as much as the people he tortures. The two novels explore this state of duality from two different perspectives: al-Qal'a al-khāmisa from the viewpoint of the prisoner and Madīna min ramād from the viewpoint of the jailor.
ISSN:1477-8556
Contains:Enthalten in: Journal of Semitic studies
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1093/jss/fgx007