"A struggle between two memories" is how Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish describes the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Within this struggle, the meanings of land and home have been challenged and questioned, so that even heaps of stones become points of contention. Are they proof of ancient Hebrew settlement, or rubble from a bulldozed Palestinian village? The memory of these stones, and of the land itself, is nurtured and maintained in Palestinian writing and other modes of expression, which are used to confront and counter Israeli images and rhetoric. This struggle provides a rich vein of thought about the nature of human experience of place and the political uses to which these experiences are put.
In this book, Barbara McKean Parmenter explores the roots of Western and Zionist images of Palestine, then draws upon the work of Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, and other writers to trace how Palestinians have represented their experience of home and exile since the First World War. This unique blending of cultural geography and literary analysis opens an unusual window on the struggle between these two peoples over a land that both divides them and brings them together.
This study provides a useful survey of contemporary Palestinian culture through a reading of the relationship between literature and land. Drawing on the methods of both geography and literary criticism, it traces the evolution of what Raja Shehadeh has called a ‘Palestinian "land rhetoric"’ from the late 19th century through the Intifada conflict.
Preface and Acknowledgments
One. The Meaning of Stones
Two. Reading the Landscape: Images of Palestine in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Three. The Literature of Struggle and Loss, 1920-1960
Four. Landscapes of Exile
Five. Landscapes of Home
Six. Encountering Israel