Iraq History and Literature

Iraq History

History. – A key date in the modern history of Iraq was the bloody coup of July 14, 1958, which overthrew the Hashimite monarchy, eliminated King Faiṣal II and the pro-British Prime Minister Nūrī Āl Sa’īd, and brought gen. Qāsim. Since then, the ‘I., having escaped any foreign protection, has become a restless and radical link in the chain of Arab states, strongly opposed to the Western group. Inside, his political life has unfolded through a series of military coups, in which personal rivalries, currents and political groups intertwine. The Qāsim dictatorship was overthrown in February 1963, and replaced by that of gen. Muḥammad ‘Ārif, supported by the socialist Bath party, of Syrian origin and soon after ascended to power in Syria as well. In November of the same year, ‘Ārif disposed of the Ba‛th, but in July 1968 it took its revenge with an opposite blow, led by gen. Āl Bakr, who overthrew ‘Ārif’s brother and successor (who had died shortly before in a plane crash), and began a new Ba‛thist period, which continues to this day. The gen. Āl Bakr is currently president of the republic, flanked by a council of the command of the revolution, to which all powers are devolved.

According to collegesanduniversitiesinusa, serious problems of domestic and foreign politics have subsequently engaged the men who have alternated in power in ‘Iraq in recent years. Internally, the one-party monopoly did not end the rivalries of groups and factions, which took place underground, and often silently suffocated in prison and blood. In the north of the country, the guerrilla warfare of the Kurdish autonomist uprising (led by Sheikh al-Barzānī, who died in 1974) has been chronic for fifteen years, of which neither armed repression nor ephemeral agreements have been able to come to terms. Abroad, repeated attempts at agreements and unions with other Arab states (Syria and Egypt), initiated several times, have not been successful. In the pan-Arab movement of resistance to Israel, the Iraq, if it did not make an appreciable military contribution, he distinguished himself on the political level for a tough intransigence, aligning himself with neighboring Syria and distant Algeria. In conclusion, in the unstable situation of the Middle East, it remains one of the major factors of instability.

Literature. – From a backward and peripheral province of neo-Arab literature, the Iraq in recent decades it has passed to an avant-garde position, thanks to a flourishing of literary talents, who have been able to effectively express the agitated, convulsive political and social life of their country.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the voices of the Iraq in the concert of modern Arabic poetry they had been az-Zahāwī (1863-1936) and ar-Ruṣāfi (1875-1945). The generation born around the turn of the century had then distinguished itself with Ṣafī an-Nagiafī (born in 1896) and Mahdī al-Giawāhirī (born in 1900). But the new poetic lever is inaugurated with poets born in the 1920s, and who entered literary activity in the most recent period of Iraqi history, following the Second World War. It is first the disappointment of the dreams of independence and freedom, then the revolution hailed as liberating and instead inaugurating new tyranny and new oppression. In this world of insecurity, hatred and persecution, the voice of poets mixes personal experiences with a widespread sense of frustration and restlessness: the purely Iraqi problems are intertwined with those of foreign policy, the troubled relations with Jordan, the echoes of the Palestinian drama, a thorn in the side of all Arabism. This environmental picture explains the deeply pessimistic accents of much of this new poem. But it is also new in form: strengthened by the previous experience of the Syro-American school, but corroborating it with the further development of modern Anglo-Saxon poetry (the influence of TS Eliot is decisive here), the new Iraqi poetic school completely breaks with the classical tradition, adopts free verse, renews the poetic lexicon. Thus, Iraq sets itself as a model, in poetry, of the other Arab countries that look to the future.

Corifei no longer young of this renewal are the poetess Nāzik al-Malā’ika (born in 1923), the head of the school Badr Shākir as-Sayyāb (1926-1964), Buland al-Ḥaidarī (born in 1926), ‛Abd ar- Raḥmān al-Bayātī (born in 1926). The Nāzik al-Malā’ika, revealed in the 1940s, today occupies a leading position in the entire Neo-Arab literature: its various lyric collections (Schegge e cenere, The hollow of the wave, etc.) powerfully express the aforementioned feelings of disturbance and anguish, which inspire, even through even more painful and direct experiences, the poetry of the precociously deceased as-Sayyāb (The song of the rain, and other collections). In the free lines of this highly gifted poet it is easy to perceive the echo of The waste land and other Eliotian production, but relived in the illusions and delusions of a modern socialist patriot of the East. In al-Bayātī, who also experienced exile and misery, the echoes of French existentialism (Sartre and Camus) are particularly sensitive, while in Ḥaidarī the political and civil passion reaches its highest tones. In the wake of these masters, a whole new lever is already operating.

In addition to poetry, the contribution of young Iraqi literature to fiction is very noteworthy, rapidly rising under the influence of the Anglo-Saxon shortstory to a rich and fruitful development. If the lyric here had to break with the tired classicizing production, the narrative was born out of nowhere, not existing in classical Arabic literature other than tenuous cues suffocated by preponderant rhetorical-linguistic interests (the maq ā ma medieval), or the popular heritage that spilled over into some parts of the Thousand and One Nights. Today Ya‛qūb Bulbul, Shākir Khuzbāk and above all ‛Abd al-Malik Nūrī (born in 1921) and Fu’ād Tekerlī (born in 1927) emerge from the ranks of young Iraqi storytellers. The essays of these two short stories, also known abroad in anthological translations, show to what level of expert realism this young fiction can rise, free from shackles of imitation, and drawing its material from the primitive, almost animalistic life of the humble in the own country. To the names already cited it is right to add that of Mahdī‛Isa aṣ-Ṣaqr, who also firmly raised the miseries and pains of his people as a matter of artistic expression.

Literary criticism, sociology and history are also actively cultivated in the modern ‘I. under prevalent Marxist influence.

Iraq History