This chapter turns to Elias Khoury's Bab al-shams (Gate of the Sun) where it considers the relation of mutilation to a persisting legacy of the word adab in the time of the term's loss. Reading Bab al-shams so involves addressing the dimensions of repetition in which the title shares. The repetition of another's words points to a relation to loss, just as the Bab al-shams repeats the title of an earlier text, Abwab al-madina (City Gates). This repetition registers a movement from the plural to the singular, and it asks one to read the mournful dimension of writing. The stories of Bab al-shams are “painful, oppressive, pressing on the reader with the heavy burden of suffering they bear,” and their form repeats that pain. In this pain the bodies of the dead keep returning, as does the body of Umm Hasan, which opens the novel.
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