Walid Seif’s “Alienation” when it moves from drama to novel

It is common in the cultural world for a writer or other person who specializes in writing drama or film script to turn his fictional work into a novel film A cinematic, television drama, or theatrical work depends on the dialogue, description of the scenes, and the instructions that he writes for the director to implement, or at least they guide him to the directorial vision that he implements for the work. including Arab culture. We have witnessed the conversion of a large number of Naguib Mahfouz’s novel works, and some of his stories, into films and television series. Naguib Mahfouz himself wrote the script and dialogue for a number of Ihsan Abdel Quddous’s novels that turned into cinematic films, but he did not write any script for his novels, and he let others do so.

The paradoxical and remarkable thing about the case of the Palestinian-Jordanian poet and TV drama writer Walid Saif is that, during the last five years, he has transformed most of his TV drama books into printed works of fiction. He transferred from the TV script paper that he prepared to implement dramatically, a material that he subjected to the vision of the writer of the novel, and rewrote the dramatic description, the author’s instructions to the director, and explained the characters’ features and external forms, and the depth of his explanation of the internal concerns, and the character’s conversations with himself, in order to give the dramatic characters psychological depths, including It allows the flow of events and the movement of characters on paper to be created as a novelist and to form a narrative. This is what he did in: The Bahrain Forum (2019), The Dates of Cordoba (2020), Fire and the Phoenix (The Black Banners, 2021), Fire and the Phoenix (Saqr Quraish, 2021), The Poet and the King (2022), and finally: Palestinian Westernization (2022), which consists of two parts: Days of the Country And the stories of the camp, and thus provides readers with most of the dramas that resonated widely when they were shown on screens, and enjoyed high viewership rates, especially his Andalusian trilogy, and his Palestinian alienation, which still attracts the attention of viewers.

Historical drama endeavor

It can be said that the series “Palestinian Westernization”, whose story was written and formulated by Walid Seif and directed by the late Syrian Hatem Ali (1962-2020), is the most important dramatic endeavor to portray the Palestinian Nakba, the diaspora that followed it, and the complex circumstances that surrounded the fall of the Palestinian homeland in 1948. Hatem Ali mobilized for him a large number of Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian drama stars, to embody the lives of the Palestinians before and after the Nakba, in a work characterized by brilliance, overflowing energy, and the ability to portray the lives of his characters, and to convey an image of life in the Palestinian countryside and city before the Nakba, and the life of The camp after that, and the director’s management of his actors is characterized by releasing the energies of this large crowd of actors, who played the main roles, as well as the secondary characters, which made the series escalate and develop its events, and the actors adhere to their roles, scene after scene, and episode after episode. The duo Walid Seif and Hatem Ali, who collaborated in other works, before and after this series, were able to provide a vision from below of the Palestinian cause, the struggle of the Palestinian people and their sufferings, and their dreams of returning to the homeland that was stolen from them, and the land they were uprooted from, despite everything. They offered it with blood, to prevent this uprooting, exile and violent displacement.

In “Palestinian Westernization”, Walid Seif and Hatem Ali present the epic of a people and the path of the Palestinian cause, starting from the 1920s, up to the emergence of the Palestinian resistance movement after the June 1967 setback. A small piece of land from which she lives, in addition to her work for the big owners of the peasants, with daily wages. This family lives in one of the villages in northern Palestine, and it consists of a father and a mother, four sons and one daughter. The series depicts the family’s suffering in earning its daily livelihood, the injustice of a landowner, and his increasing pressure on her to force her to sell the only piece of land she owns, as it is located on the borders of his land.

Thus, the series ascends us from the reality of a very poor Palestinian family, turning our attention to Palestinian fictional and fictional creations that colored the lives of Palestinians with dreamy romantic colors, as if Palestine was an earthly paradise from which all Palestinians came out to the land of diaspora, poverty, humiliation and humiliation, as political conflicts, class inequality, and injustice intertwined. Social, underdevelopment, hateful tribalism, and family leadership struggles in Palestinian cities and villages, with the plots of the major colonial powers, led by Britain, and the Zionist scheme, which hatched its plot to seize Palestine.

We are here, in the face of a dramatic rewriting of the Palestinian Nakba, through small details, stories of daily life, scenes of joys and sorrows, and images of extreme poverty that does not prevent the leaping spirit of the people of this people from dreaming and overcoming the difficulties of life, and the ropes of politics that made their daily reality and threw them away. Outside the Palestinian geography, it threw them into camps in which they still see the image of their present and continuous catastrophe. In order to write half a century of the Palestinian tragedy (1917-1967), the author uses the biographical material written by Ali (the educated brother who became a scientist and professor of physics at the American University of Beirut), interspersed with analyzes of the political, social and cultural reality, to shed light on scenes, events and dialogues. that revolves around the characters of the series. This appears to us to be consistent with the author’s voice, his self-vision of the Palestinian cause, his personal perception of the causes of the Nakba, and his own analysis of the situation. The use of the narrator’s voice, which tells and analyzes, against the background of the series’ scenes that depict the daily life of the young family, and the events that portend the loss of a homeland and the displacement of a people, provides a kind of universal culture that suggests objectivity, analytical impartiality, and a realistic vision that distances it from the characters’ emotionality and hopes for the return of Quick to earth and home.

This is in the series, so what about the novel?

The events of the novel, published by Al-Ahlia House in Amman (2022), almost coincide with the events of the series, with slight modifications in a number of places that may have been dictated by the filming and production conditions, and the director’s vision, but comparing the series with the novel leads to a match, not only in the events, Rather, it is in the dialogues of the characters, the songs, and the sayings that respond to the tongues of some of the characters, as the series and the novel permeate the biography that Ali Saleh Sheikh Yunis writes in his exile, where he becomes in the novel a teacher at the American University of Princeton. We do not know if this is identical to the original text – written, while the script was modified, when filming the series, so that Ali Sheikh Younes would be a professor of physics at the American University of Beirut, in an agreement that took place between the author and the director.

Despite the correspondence between the series and the novel, the reader of the fictional work finds himself drawn to this narrative, linear work, whose events follow in a temporal context that starts from the past and moves towards the future. No experimentation here, no time transitions, no return to the past, then a regression to the bereaved, defeated present. This makes this text traditional in its plot, its use of places and forms of time, as well as the appearance of the author’s voice, not only in the biography of Ali Sheikh Yunus, but also in the folds of narration, comments, analyzes, interpretations of events, drawing pictures of characters, and their relationship to place, as well as in the dialogues that take place. Among the intellectuals of the family, and seeks to convey the cultural and political debate in the Arab world, in that period of time that followed the Nakba, in which currents of existential philosophy prevailed that were grafted with Arab nationalist ideas.

What separates the fictional text from the dramatic work is the use of poetry, in the orbits of the seasons. The author quotes from the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Salah Abd al-Sabour, and Tawfiq Ziyad. He also quotes poetry from his writing and from his previous collections, placing the reader in the atmosphere of his poetry collections: Poems in the Time of Conquest (1969), and A Tattoo on the Arm of Greenery (1971). , and “The Westernization of the Children of Palestine” (1979), where she imagines the Canaanite myths of fertility, with the symbol of greenery that adheres to the earth, emerging from its grasses, and the symbol of Jabina, which has been searching for its mother. Undoubtedly, this refers in one of his aspects to Khadra, the only daughter of the family who went with her husband to the town of Umm al-Fahm, and was cut off from the family inside the wall of the 1948 occupation, so they became outside, and she remained inside. In this confrontation between Khadra and her family, there is an indication of a clear opposition between the two parts of the Palestinian people, the remaining ones and the displaced, exiled refugees.

We do not know, of course, whether these poetic texts included in the fictional text were present in the written text in order to implement it, to be composed and sung, as is the poem of the Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan (1905-1941), which the series took as his emblem, echoing in the episodes. We do not know if the director Hatem Ali deleted these poems in order not to burden the series with sung poems, but the presence of these poems, whether those written by the author and put by the young poet Salah, or those that he borrowed from other Palestinian and Arab poets, gives the narrative text depth. Poetic, and overflowing connotations of the daily, pressing, nightmarish reality, under which the characters of the work languish, in the post-catastrophe phase and during the stay in the camp, as it charges the fictional space with hope, and injects it with the spark of resistance that characterizes the poetic texts that the author added to his fictional work.

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Why did Walid Seif turn this successful drama into a novel? The author knows that the masses of television series viewers are not necessarily the same as those who read novels, especially since the latter category is educated, educated, and interested, and it is small in number compared to the large masses of television viewers who are interested in soap operas. The image is more widespread and more attractive to interested book readers, but a dramatic writer, like Walid Saif, is trying, as I think, to reach a different segment of interested people, that is, the intellectual and educated public, who are readers of the novel. In the fictional work, we find the writer’s skill, his ideas, the way he builds his fictional world, his vision of the world, and the issues he transforms into stories. In the novel, the reader is immersed in the world of the novelist, his language, and his speech, and is not preoccupied with the performance of the actors, the soundtrack accompanying the dramatic work, the images of battles, the moving world before the eyes of the viewers, and the director’s vision of the text. Here we are, in the printed fictional text, identifying with the writer, with the words that line up before our eyes.

However, the problem with Walid Seif’s text, which turned from a drama into a fictional work, especially in “Palestinian Westernization”, is that the viewers of the series are not only from the general public, but from the crowd of novel readers as well. It is true that the number of these is less than the viewers of the series, but their reading will always bring them back to the series that they watched before, and they will restore the images of the actresses and actors who played the roles of the characters, especially if what they read closely matches what they saw on the screen. Perhaps reading the novel will prompt them to return to the series they watched many years ago, to search for similarities and differences between the text of the novel and the embodiment of the drama.

Despite these problems raised by transforming the drama “Palestinian Westernization” into a fictional work, and the confusion of the dramatic work on the fictional text, as the characters of the series, and its successive scenes, overlook the reader of the fictional text, the gain that is achieved, by transferring the drama “Alienation” to become a work In print, it is to re-shed light on the famous series, and then, to re-shed light on the Palestinian cause, which has been getting complicated and insisting on our awareness, as Palestinians and Arabs, as well as as human beings, who are witnessing this ongoing catastrophe.

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