In the Country of Men as a National Allegory
Hisham Matar presents In the Country of Men as a national allegory. This is done through metaphors, personification, and characters’ relationships. His purposes for writing this novel were political. A national allegory is any attribution of human characteristics to other animals, non-living things, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations or governments1 of a nation or its people.2 Fredric Jameson, with ideas more suitable for the novel than Aijaz Ahmad, was first to think of national allegory.3 Jameson states that third-world literature must be a national allegory because of the state of its embattled culture and society. A political dimension is always present from the nature of the third-world as opposed to capitalism in the first-world, which enables their public and government to focus on luxuries rather than survival. Ahmed argues that Jameson fails to recognize other third-world novels with different forms of literature because he only considers English written novels.4 In times of war when the government controls the public’s lives, third-world writers can only search to write in a national allegory, otherwise, torture would be eminent. Political dimensions are always present from the nature of the third-world. National allegory writing emphasizes the political situation of the government.5 Hisham Matar wrote In the Country of Men for a political purpose. The book may be fiction, but it seems to be drawn upon by real-life events. Writers then were tortured by the revolutionary committee and imprisoned, similar to Ustath Rashid. An interview with Matar reads “Because of the fear Gadhafi inspired in the intellectual community, many Libyan writers turned to allegory to make their work opaque to the regime. But Matar's own writing is more forthright about political experiences — he says that when he decided to set his novel in Libya in the late 1970s, it seemed inauthentic and...
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Jameson, Fredric, ‘Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism’, Social Text, 15 (1986), 65-88.
Krishnan, Madhu. ‘Contemporary Fiction: Booker Prize,’ (Lecture 1 Given on 13 November 2012).
Matar, Hisham, In the Country of Men (80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 2006).
Montagne, Renee, ‘Hisham Matar On The Power Of Libyan Fiction’, NPR (April 28, 2011) , 23 November 2012.
‘National Personification’, Wikipedia (16 November 2012) [25 November 2012].
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