Secondo momento – Letterature / Stage Two – Literatures

The “Urmann” is a Woman. A Re-reading of Yūsuf Idrīs’ Abū ar-riǧāl


In this article I propose a close reading of Yūsuf Idrīs’ short story Abū ar-riǧāl. This text, published by the Egyptian author in 1988, addresses issues of homosexuality as opposed to the idea of masculinity prevailing in the social and political discourse of the Eighties in Egypt. Homosexuality is not a new subject in Arabic literature. It is in fact present in the literary production in the Arabic language since the Classical Age, and several homosexual characters can be noticed in modern and contemporary literature. The difference stands in presenting homosexuality without censorship or moral judgment, and above all masculinity is conceived by parameters, which are others in respect to those of the state discourse. When the short story was published, it passed almost unnoticed by the Arab reading public while scholars in the West did not discuss the issue at the core of it. Nowadays, when a lot of novels and short stories by Arab women and men writers propose the homosexual character anew, Abū ar-riǧāl testifies the presence of different point of views in the Arabic literature.


Yūsuf Idrīs; Egyptian literature; gender studies; queer studies

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