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The novel can generally be considered to be the result of Palestinian frustration concerning the rights of Palestinians and the fact that they have been robbed with the support of an international public.
Anger is taken to a whole new level through the use of irony as the writer is no longer able to maintain a typical Palestinian position concerning conditions in Israel and uses this concept as a means to have people realize that the situation is downright ridiculous. Palestinians are harshly discriminated in the state of Israel in spite of the fact that many of them are willing to act against their background and serve the Israeli government. Similarly, they generally encounter resistance when they try to organize groups meant to assist them in being provided with a series of basic rights.
The term "pessoptimist" perfectly describes the condition of Palestinians, considering that they are both pessimistic and optimistic regarding their fate. Saeed simply accepted that he was an unfortunate individual and did not abandon his fight when he experienced problems. Moreover, he was inclined to believe that he was actually fortunate because he did not experience a harsher fate.
"The Secret Life of Saeed: The Pessoptimist" is a work of Palestinian fiction containing elements belonging to Israeli literature and to a more general context that promotes the concept of irony as an essential factor shaping a story's intensity. The account steers away from typical Palestinian fiction, but its underlying concepts make it possible for readers to understand that they are actually presented with a story involving Palestinian frustration resulted from the fact that the Israeli state is reluctant to provide Arabs with rights that they believe they deserve. Tragedy is no longer simple in these circumstances and irony is used with the purpose of emphasizing the seriousness of the situation.
Habiby did not waver about inspiring from Western and Russian literature at the time when he wrote his works, as he knew that this would provide both himself and his readers with the chance to understand conditions in Israel from an objective point-of-view (O'Neil 534). This is probably one of the reasons for which the protagonist in his novel is unhesitant about getting involved in activities that are against Palestinian principles.
Saeed knows that it would be wrong for him to remain attached to Palestinian ideals in an environment favoring Western and Israeli concepts and thus comes to perform actions meant to secure his position in a hostile society. One can come to believe that Saeed acts on behalf of his people when he struggles to stay alive, considering that Palestinians are generally provided with little to no life opportunities as a result of the fact that the world is generally inclined to discriminate them. It is very difficult and almost impossible for a Palestinian individual to achieve success in Israel through lobbying in favor of Palestinian rights.
The Israeli authorities are typically reluctant to support individuals who put across Palestinian principles because the Palestinian state is not recognized by the state of Israel and because Palestinians are generally perceived as a threat by the Israeli government. It is thus difficult for a Palestinian individual to make it in a society that does not want him or her. Through excluding Palestinians living in Israel from Israeli armed forces, the state of Israel further contributes to widening the gap between Palestinians and Israeli individuals, given that both groups get the feeling that it is impossible for them to peacefully coexist (Le Gassick, 215).
All things considered, Habiby's Saeed is the perfect example of a Palestinian individual trying to succeed in Israel: he knows that conditions are critical, but he is unwilling to yield. The novel is a work of Palestinian fiction, but this is of little to no importance when considering that it is actually meant to discuss concepts like discrimination, exile, and human feelings in general.
Allen, Roger "The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction," 2nd ed., Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995.
Farsoun, Samih K. And Zacharia, Christina E. "Palestine and the Palestinians," Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.
Habiby, Emile, "The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist," Arabia Books, 2011
Kather, Akram F, "Emile Habibi: The Mirror of Irony in Palestinian Literature," Journal of Arabic Literature
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 75-94.
Le Gassick, Trevor, "al-Waq?'i' al-Ghar-bah f? Ikhtif?' Sa'?d Ab? al-Na-as al-Mutash?'il (The Strange History of Sa'?d Pessoptimist, the Luckless Palestinian) by Emil ?ab-b?," Middle East Journal
Vol. 34, No. 2 (Spring, 1980), pp. 215-223 .
O'Neil, Patrick M. ed., "Great World Writers: Twentieth Century," vol. 4, New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2004.
Scott, Jonathan, "The Miracle of Emile Habiby's Pessoptimist," Retrieved January 11, 2012, from the Free Patents Online…[continue]
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