Seminar highlights impact of memory on intellectual works and children’s literature at Paris Book Fair 2018

PARIS, 17th March 2018 (WAM) – In celebration of Sharjah as Special Guest City at the ongoing Paris Book Fair, the emirate out together a seminar titled ‘The Eternal Impact’, featuring Lebanese researcher Dr Wajeeh Fanous, Dr Hamad bin Sarrai, Professor of Old History at the UAE University, and Emirati poet and critic, Dr Saeed Hamdan.

Moderated by Emirati author Eman Al Yousef, the seminar started with elaborations by Dr Fanous, who said: “Human memory leaves a clear impact on the literary and intellectual output of an entire nation and its generations, and one cannot live without memory. Thus, heritage is an integral part of the history of peoples and their influence.”

In his talk, Fanous highlighted literary works of Lebanese historian and author, Jurji Zaidan, whose legacy of promoting cross-cultural understanding, with a focus on sharing Islamic civilisation’s riches and a revival of the Arabic language, still lives on.

He said the works of Zaidan confirm the individual’s relationship with their historical memory and reflect their creative ability to utilise them in a variety of memorable literary works. Fanous said that one who examines the work of Jurji Zaidan will see that he often reached out to historical tales to find inspirations for his literary works, which reveal that he was strongly influenced by the rich Islamic heritage.

Hamad bin Sarrai urged writers to pay more attention to the systematic side of writing, and highlighted the need to comply with certain scientific methodologies in their approach to history. He stressed on the need to do so, as a way to not get mixed up between the literary and historical aspects of their writing, for especially when drawing from history, it is essential that the highest possible level of accuracy is maintained while documenting historical events, which once recorded in books will be accessed by several to come.

Saeed Hamdan addressed the close relationship between literature and history, indicating especially the folk literature and folk tale genres, and their uniqueness in the way those narratives can be enriched by tradition, memory and heritage.

Hamdan underlined that the UAE has been enriching the fields of literature, poetry, history and documentation with an abundance of live materials. He said: “The declaration of 2018 as the Year of Zayed opens new doors to dig deeper into the UAE’s rich cultural legacy and heritage.”

The Sharjah Pavilion also hosted a seminar to shed light on the children’s literature landscape in view of recent developments, bringing together prominent children’s author from Lebanon, Fatima Sharafeddine, and the youngest children’s novelist in the UAE, Dubai Abulhoul.

During the seminar, moderated by journalist Olivia Singer, Sharafeddine talked about her personal experience in writing and how it transformed and developed with time to become a mature cultural experience. In doing so, she said: “There is strong integration between creative work and personal sentiments.”

Sharafeddine emphasised that she has managed, over the years, to devote her time in narrating tales ripe with messages about personality development of children in a way that can be truly enjoyed by them; a method more effective for its quality of being entirely non-dictatic.

She clarified that writing for children is a tough job, and its difficulty lies in the separation between the writer’s personality as an adult, and his audience of children who deal with his messages and content of his work intelligently.

Abuhoul underscored the need to move away from prejudgments and preconceptions about writing for children, noting that she shifts away from idealism often marked by moralistic concepts like ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

She said: “I seek that through my books, children unlock their imagination in ways that are not limited by judgment or arthroscopy. Literature and reading for children should only concern themselves with being able to offer that exciting journey into pleasure, opening doors to free thought and creativity.”

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