بررسی پادآرمانشهر خاورمیانه‌ای در دو رمان وقت تقصیر و فرانکشتاین در بغداد

نوع مقاله : مقاله پژوهشی

نویسندگان

1 دانشجوی دکتری زبان و ادبیات فارسی، دانشکدۀ ادبیات و علوم انسانی، دانشگاه شهید بهشتی، ایران.

2 استادیار زبان و ادبیات فارسی، دانشکدۀ ادبیات و علوم انسانی، دانشگاه شهید بهشتی، ایران

10.48308/hlit.2024.234357.1285

چکیده

در این مقاله، دو رمان پادآرمان­شهری وقت تقصیر از محمدرضا کاتب و فرانکشتاین در بغداد از احمد سعداوی از چشم‌اندازهای مختلفی بررسی و تحلیل می­شوند. این دو اثر تقریباً هم­دوره هستند و فضای تا حدودی مشابهی را ترسیم می­کنند. نویسندگان این دو رمان با استفاده از شخصیت­هایی که هویت­های تکه­تکه و متناقضی دارند، نشان می­دهند که چگونه پادآرمانشهر با تکرار تاریخ، بلاتکلیفی، شکنجه، خشونت و جنگ بنا نهاده شده است. این شخصیت­ها، که گاهی به‌عنوان ناظر و راوی پنهان عمل می­کنند، با صداهای مختلفی در رمان­ها گفت‌وگو می­کنند. این گفت‌وگوها، نشان­دهندۀ تناقضات و تعارضات بین گفتمان­های متفاوت در پادآرمانشهر است، نویسندگان همچنین از عناصر دیگری مانند زمان، مکان، بدن، زنان و نمادسازی برای ایجاد فضای پادآرمان­شهری استفاده می‌کنند. رمان وقت تقصیر با وجود مشخصه‌هایی چون عناصر فراداستانیِ خودارجاعی، بینامتنی‌بودن و ساختارشکنی کلان‌روایت‌ها، ویژگی­های رمان پسامدرن را داراست، ولی فرانکشتاین در بغداد با توجه به واقع‌گرایی ویژه­اش، روان‌شناسی شخصیت‌ها، ساختار روایی منسجم و نقد اجتماعی و فرهنگی داستانی مدرن به شمار می‌آید. شخصیت­های وقت تقصیر در مقایسه با رمان فرانکشتاین در بغداد پویاتر هستند که جا به جا نقش­های مختلفی را می­پذیرند و میان خیر و شر در رفت و آمدند. وقت تقصیر و فرانکشتاین در بغداد با وجود تفاوت­هایی که دارند، دو رمان پادآرمان­شهری پیچیده و چندصدایی هستند که بازتابی از واقعیت­های چندپاره و متکثر جامعۀ خود را نشان می­دهند. گفتنی است روش این پژوهش، تحلیل محتوای کیفی رمان­ها است که بر اساس آن، مؤلفه­های اصلی و ویژگی­های پادآرمان­شهری رمان­ها شناسایی و قهرمانان داستان از منظر تطابق با پادآرمان­شهر ارزیابی شده ­اند.

کلیدواژه‌ها


عنوان مقاله [English]

Examining Elements of Middle Eastern Dystopia: A Comparative Study of Vaght-e Taghsir and Frankenstein in Baghdad

نویسندگان [English]

  • Zein Alabedeen Asaad 1
  • Mohammad Ragheb 2
1 PhD Candidate of Persian Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
2 Assistant Professor of Persian Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
چکیده [English]

Introduction

The term “dystopia” was coined in 1868 in reference to authoritarian societies, and it often relates to totalitarian regimes (Vieira, 2010: 5&16; Baccolini & Moylan, 2013: 4-7). It was first used in English literature in 1747, albeit with the different spelling of “dustopia”, to describe an anti-utopia. In 1952, the word was used as the opposite of an ideal society, or utopia. The first half of the twentieth century saw the publication of books such as We, Brave New World, and 1984, all of which contained dystopian themes. Thus, the dystopian genre gained traction during the Cold War and went on to garner more popularity during the 1960s and the twenty-first century. While the European dystopias showed the negative impacts of totalitarian regimes, the modern Iranian and Arabic literature investigated the causes of apathetic societies. Dystopia as a genre exists sporadically in modern Iranian literature, but contemporary Arabic literature focuses on the genre more consistently (Claeys, 2022: 53–54; Elmeligi, 2023).

Methodology

This paper is qualitative, analytical, and exploratory, which means the implemented method is qualitative data analysis using the MaxQDA 2018 software.

Discussion

3.1. Socio-Political Discourse 
The novel Vaght-e Taghsir (2003), written by Mohammad Kateb, analyzes the intersection of cultural and socio-political elements with human consciousness and imagination. The story is set during the final days of Khatami's government and the rise of fundamentalism in Iran, which represents the decline of cultural freedom and progress and the beginning stages of Iran’s political isolation. Kateb creates a dystopia made up of both fact and fiction by combining real and mythological elements in his story. The main character, Hayat, plays a pivotal role in carrying out public executions and torture. He is in charge of the prison and torture center, slowly turning his show of power into a ritual. Other people also participate in these displays of violence, either as spectators, accomplices, or victims. Hayat himself seems to wear many different faces and fragmented identities, which represent the complexities of the society to which he belongs.
Ahmed Saadawi’s novel Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013) takes place against the backdrop of the American attack on Iraq and the 2005 civil war. The book focuses on the concept of war as a surreal and futile reality for everyone involved, while blending dystopian and gothic elements. The main character, Hadi al-Attag, collects the body parts of the victims of war to create a creature called Shasmeh (whatsitsname), who seeks revenge on those responsible for his death. Saadawi paints a harsh and scathing picture of Middle Eastern sectarianism, as well as geopolitical and governance weaknesses. Saadawi focuses on the consequences of war and the presence of alien forces, which are considered undesirable elements of dystopia.
Gottlieb describes the government as the main player in the dystopia (Gottlieb, 2001: 7, 16), while Agren believes that global power does not necessarily correspond to the government (Agren, 2014: 11). In Vaght-e Taghsir, the government acts as the main perpetrator, while in Frankenstein in Baghdad, ordinary citizens appear as the main players in the dystopian landscape. The government in Frankenstein in Baghdad, however, plays a main role in the formation and strengthening of Frankenstein by creating and supporting armed and religious forces and inciting hatred and division between different classes, castes, and religions.
In Vaght-e Taghsir, the author examines the socio-political status quo by using symbolism. The name of the city, Hekmataneh/Hegmataneh, has both dystopian and utopian aspects, therefore serving double meanings (Kateb, 2009: 251-252). Frankenstein in Baghdad depicts the chaotic and violent situation that followed the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and examines the historical and political events that have shaped Iraq’s recent history. 
3.2. Dystopian discourse 
Bakhtin believed that novels are polyphonic phenomena and authors can use a variety of different points of view to create a coherent and integrated artistic system (Holquist, 1990: 261-262). On the contrary, Agren emphasizes the importance of the psychological experiences of the individual in creating dystopia (Agren, 2014: 34). In Vaght-e Taghsir, the characters are searching for their true identities, and this search and their conflicting feelings about their fragmented identity are reflected in both their internal and external dialogues. In Frankenstein in Baghdad, the dialogue gives the characters depth and identity. In both cases, rites and rituals play an important role in shaping dystopian society as well as helping promote obedience and subjugation (Torrisi, 2015: 55-57, 72, 80).
3.3. Character Psychology 
In Frankenstein in Baghdad, fear and anxiety have become internalized elements in the story, creating an atmosphere filled with paranoia and terror that can be felt at all times and in all spaces, even inside homes and on deserted streets. This is while in Vaght-e Taghsir, an atmosphere of disgust and terror prevails in prisons, homes, and cemeteries. 
The main characters in both texts, such as Hayat and Abro in Vaght-e Taghsir and Hadi and Mahmoud in Frankenstein in Baghdad, play dynamic and proactive roles and move the story forward. Women also have a strong presence in these texts and take proactive roles and effective stances in the face of dystopian adversaries. These varying interactions and representations help form complex societies that include different and conflicting groups with their own goals and ambitions.
3.4. Spatiality 
Space plays an important role beyond just the background for the events of the story in contemporary literature. It becomes an artistic element that can shape the themes and meanings of the story (Bahrawi, 1990). In Vaght-e Taghsir, the spaces are mostly unspecified and generic, which allows the reader to relate the story to real life (Kateb, 2009). Spaces like the square and the cemetery, however, find different meanings, taking on a new identity that represents power and resistance. In Frankenstein in Baghdad, Baghdad is not the only location in the story; there are other secondary locations that take on different meanings and play a role in the plot of the story (Saadawi, 2013).
Foucault's heterotopias, which are conflicting, othered, or sacred spaces, act as spaces where conflicting characters, discourses, and identities are brought together in these two novels (Foucault & Miskowiec, 1968). In Frankenstein in Baghdad, for instance, the characters and spaces are both placed in a third space where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred. This surrealism improves the complexities of the story (Saadawi, 2013).
3.5. Embodiment
Philosophy views the body and the mind as connected entities through neurological and cognitive structures that form the basis of thought (Lakoff and Johnson, 2017). The body does not simply reflect the state of society; it is also a place for recording biological experiences and social supervision (Zarghani et al., 2018). In these texts, the body itself is used as a place to display power. In Vaght-e Taghsir, the body is the meeting place of conflicting thoughts and beliefs; it is a field for displays of power. This is whilst in Frankenstein in Baghdad, the body is the center of attention, and body parts become symbols of justice and revenge. Therefore, as can be seen in these texts, the body itself can represent social and cultural complexities (Hajizadeh and Hosseini, 2017).

Conclusion

Vaght-e Taghsir is a postmodern novel that employs self-referential metafiction and intertextuality as techniques to showcase alternative realities through various points of view and storylines that result in an open ending. Likewise, Frankenstein in Baghdad employs dystopian landscapes by relying on the repetition of history and the uncertainty of citizens.
These two novels have some differences in their depiction of socio-political status: Vaght-e Taghsir paints the government as a dominant and oppressive institution, while Frankenstein in Baghdad depicts a powerless government. Both novels rewrite conflicting experiences in different time periods and showcase the constant efforts of characters and the overall society to escape the status quo. The heroes in these stories accept their fate head-on and without resistance. In conclusion, these stories combine the dystopian and utopian discourses and show how difficult it is for Middle Easterners to escape their status quo in the 21st century.

کلیدواژه‌ها [English]

  • dystopia
  • utopia
  • history
  • discourse
  • character
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