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      Abject Talks Gibberish: “Translating” Abjection in Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman



            The Lebanese Civil War, stretching over two decades of Lebanon's history, features prominently in any discussion of Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman (2014), a novel fashioned according to the pent-up frustrations of a post-trauma period. Alameddine's novel manifests traumatic signposts of the civil war, which make it indelibly situational, and accordingly latches onto complex psychological issues. It is branded with the mark of “abject,” which besots its pages, a phenomenon that threatens identity beyond measure, triggering even an existentialist entropy. In making an effort to (persistently) “describe” this complex phenomenon beyond ken, the novel enmeshes in a baroque and a quite wordy style that tells of an arduous quest on the author's (and characters‘) part to find the “right” word for “abject.” Drawing mainly on Sigmund Freud's essay “The Uncanny” and Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror, this article proposes to skirt the psychological archaeology of “abject” in An Unnecessary Woman. It argues that the Lebanese Civil War is not the originator of the characters’ feeling of abjection in the novel. Rather, it contends that this feeling, already inherent in the human being and thus universal, is activated by abject threats, such as, in this premise, the civil war, its suspect entourage, and aging.


            Author and article information

            Arab Studies Quarterly
            Pluto Journals
            1 July 2021
            : 43
            : 3 ( doiID: 10.13169/arabstudquar.43.issue-3 )
            : 249-267
            © 2021 The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

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            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            An Unnecessary Woman ,Abject,Julia Kristeva,Trauma,Arab fiction,Rabih Alameddine


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