Defamiliarization / Estrangement in Nabil Abd-Alkarim's Short Story Collection Beautiful Pictures (Al-Suwar Al-Jamilah)
This paper highlights artistic techniques in Nabil Abd-Alkarim's short story collection Beautiful Pictures which represents common and familiar issues at the level of reality and in literary studies. The paper relies on Shklovsky's concept of "defamiliarization" to examine the role techniques play in estranging familiar and recurring topics that have already become automatic and ineffective. Artistic techniques aim to reintroduce these topics to the human understanding in a unique and unusual way, so they look new, as if the person gets to know them again.
The paper highlights a number of artistic references in the collection that reflect the cognitive awareness upon which they are based, as they belong to the imagination even when they deal with realistic issues. Then, it studies "defamiliarization" in the collection at the level of language, and it focuses on its intensification, its wide dependence on images, the use of details, and the resulting ambiguity. The paper also tackles "defamiliarization" at the level of characters, as they appear in the collection eccentric and perform abnormal behavior. The stories present this in an analytical framework which reveals hidden and pressing psychological factors that drive them to such behavior. While the paper studies several stories, it focuses in particular on two, namely, “Beautiful Pictures” an eponymous story, and “Mutual Services” (“Khadamat Mutabadalah”), as two examples of what the paper refers to in the collection.
Victor Erlich, Russian Formalism: History – Doctrine, Mouton Publisher, The Hague, Paris, New York, edition 4, 1980.
Victor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose, Tr. Benjamin Sher, Dalkey Archive Press, Champaing and London, 1990.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.