Point of View and Focalization in Works of Taha Hossein and Mohammad-Ali Eslami Nadooshan: "Al-ayyam" & "Days"

One of the most important elements of narrative texts is point of view. Point of view demonstrates ideology and attitude of writer & artist to world, human and society.”Al-ayyam” And “Days” which are one of the most precious and interesting examples of contemporary autobiographical; in the beginning of one of the most essential historical ages - passing from traditional society to modern society – are written in two aspects and point of view. Autobiographies are frequently written in first person point of view. Mohammad-ali Eslami Nadooshan at his book “Days” uses usual point of view in autobiography i.e. first person point of view, but Taha Hossein in his book “Al-ayyam” narrates internal and external world and his mental and society disturbance in third person point of view.


 This paper analyses the factors of selecting these two different perspectives as the spotlights of the two writers. Factors like literary-aesthetical, creating the artistic distance, deconstruction and revolutionary mentality and also concealing his blindness in “Al-ayyam”, realism and lively report of Iranian society and author's reform are the most important factors of choosing these two different points of view. In the third-person point of view, the author has more opportunity to characterize and describe the scenes and more easily can represent the characters' thoughts, feelings, and remembrances than other narrative points of view.


Taha Hussein selects the third-person point of view while concealing his blindness and responding to the reader's uncertainty that how it is possible that a blind person could so accurately narrate and describe events and scenes and report the feelings and concerns of the main character from outside and by keeping away from hero and events. In fact, this choice has made it possible for the author while he is creating the artistic distance and critical reading; to conceal his blindness and in practice, narrate easily the feelings, desires, and concerns of a desperate and isolated blind genius. In addition, he has been able to easily talk about his positive characteristics and creativities, possibly his weaknesses and shortcomings. Innovation and creativity can be another factor in this choice. The world of art and literature is a world of seeing and thinking differently. The artist breaks the templates and ordinary forms, and creates a new world. Taha Hussein as a literary thinker is not unaware of this effective role of literature and art. In fact, how to create a work like the whatness of work is a crucial matter for Taha Hussein. Although choosing the third-person point of view has reduced the autobiographic aspect of the work but, has increased the literary-aesthetical aspect of it, and it gives his work the artistic structure of romance that could reflect easily both the ideals of himself and society.  Taha Hussein has given his work an artistic, literary and aesthetic distinction by using the novel- writing techniques, deletions and selections, characterization, and artistic descriptions, including the choice of third-person point of view rather than the conventional first-person point of view in writing autobiographies. In addition, he is implicitly asking for a new life, order, and changes of the laws and structures that have dominated traditional Egyptian society for years and centuries; by breaking the conventional and arbitrary form of writing the autobiography and utilizing the third-person narrator instead of the first-person. In fact, the author has a revolutionary message for the reader by changing the form, writing and art form.  
But if we put imagination and reality on the two ends of a continuum, "days" are closer to reality than “Al-ayyam”. Eslami Nadooshan respects the aesthetic and literary of words, His works on literature and literary criticism, society and culture and travelogue are considered one of the most beautiful, interesting and successful contemporary prose. In "days", he’s not unaware of these important factors but his realism overcomes the idealism of Taha Hussein. By using the first-person point of view as a reporter who is directly and personally present in the context of the event and society, he has tried like realists as much as possible, to report the realities of the society without interfering the feelings and speak to the readers. This kind of narration contributes to the credibility, in addition to identification, and the reader feels confident that the first-person narrator describes events directly. His realism and objectivism cause that a pure autobiography -"days"- to turn into the Iranian social, political, and cultural history. In other words, this work contains the social, political, cultural history of the most critical and crucial period of Iranian society's life; The Transition of Iranian Society from the world of tradition to the world of modernity, the Transition from the semi-Feudal petty landowner to the World of Individualism. In other words, the main intention of the writer in “Al-ayyam” is first to express his intellectual and mental struggles and secondly to present the outside world, but Eslami Nadooshan unlike Taha Hussein and confessional style of autobiographies, he has been less concerned with his inner world and his sensual and emotional struggles, but as a realist reporter, proceeds to the political, social and cultural life of Iranian society. He seeks to know the essence of his true self in society and in the outside world and he has a readers-focused approach to reporting on his life and his community, and shares with the readers the developments of the society in which he is present and the events that he has observed directly and analyzes them. On this basis, it can be said that the “narrator’s ego” in "days", is not the personal and the individual ego, but the social and the typical. Choosing the usual point of view and using conventional writing style in "Days" also reflects Eslami Nadooshan’ reformist spirit. As we have said, by studying "Al-ayyam", we will find Taha Hussein a revolutionary and idealistic character who doesn’t agree with the current situation of traditional Egyptian society. Changing the point of view from first-person to third-person and creating the artistic distance are signs that he is asking for fundamental changes in the cultural, political and social structure of society. But in "Days" we find Eslami Nadooshan as a reformist thinker and a realistic intellectual. Eslami Nadooshan has a nostalgic attachment to the roots of Iranian culture and identity. This attachment causes that not only in "Days" but also in his other articles and books like “Iran and His Loneliness", "Safir Simorgh" and "Iran and Greece in Ancient Context" he calls for preserving genuine values ​​and beliefs and using their neglected capacities to reform society.


 In "Al-ayyam" and "Days", both authors reveal fatalism, pure determinism, superstition and deceit. Taha Hossein gets furious with the plagues, has taken a revolutionary stance, and sharply criticizes it in newspapers. But Eslami Nadooshan prefers gradual and cultural reform over revolutionary movements and extremism that have no result but destruction. He believes that in a society that cultural infrastructure does not provided for democracy, people cannot be expected to become aware of their rights overnight, and participate in their destiny. He implicitly believes that a society that fate, determinism, and submission have penetrated to it, will not reform except by slow and gradual developments. Because the intellectual, cultural and economic poverty doesn’t create instantly than can abolish by a revolutionary movement at once.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Journal of Comparative Literature, Volume:11 Issue: 21, 2020
101 - 126
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