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Arabian sensuality

Islamic fundamentalists have forgotten their own heritage of women writers and extraordinary Arab myth

By Robert Chandler   November 2001

While a strong, expansive culture can afford to be tolerant, a culture that feels beleaguered, like that of the Arab world today, tends to close in on itself, to narrow its own boundaries. As paranoia grows, an ever-shrinking cultural space is defended with increasing ferocity. Not only does it become difficult for artists and writers to be receptive to the work of other cultures-it becomes hard for them to acknowledge some of the most interesting elements in their own.

The two most exciting books I have read this year, both published some time ago by small publishers, are by Abdullah…

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