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Abdelwahab Meddeb  [ Tunisia, France ]

Biography

Meddeb, Abdelwahab_portrait_c_HartwigKlappert
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012.

Bibliography

Talismano
Wunderhorn
Heidelberg, 1993
[Ü: Hans Thill]

Aya
Wunderhorn
Heidelberg, 1998
[Ü: Hans Thill].

Die Krankheit des Islam
Wunderhorn
Heidelberg, 2002
[Ü: Beate und Hans Thill]

Zwischen Europa und Islam
115 Gegenpredigten
Wunderhorn
Heidelberg, 2007
[Ü: Rainer G. Schmidt]

Dégage! Une révolution
[Mit Colette Fellous, Georges Wolinski u. Akram Belaid]
Phébus
Paris, 2012

The Tunisian-French author Abdelwahab Meddeb has become a popular expert on the themes of multiculturalism and integration after 11 September 2001. He was born in 1946 as the son of a high-ranking Islamic theologist in Tunis. After studying Art History and Literature in France he worked as an editor for the publisher, Editions du Seuil, before overseeing his own literary series for Editions Sindbad, from 1974 to 1988. Since the nineties, Meddeb has become increasingly involved with academic concerns at universities and research centres in Geneva, Florence, Paris and Yale.

In his literary and academic work he is primarily concerned with the roots and history of Islam, its literature, its culture and the problematic integration of Muslim thought into the processes of modernity. In »Talismano« (1979) the first person narrator in Paris imagines a stroll through Tunis, the town of his childhood, and recalls for the reader the multi-faceted sensuousness of an Arab medina. In »Phantasia« (1986), by contrast, the strolling narrator moves through the Parisian cityscape, making a connection with Walter Benjamin's explorations of the city. His book, »La Maladie de l’Islam« (2002; Eng. »The Malady of Islam«, 2003), is an attempt at an exact analysis of the Islamic movement. On the one hand he contrasts the poetic tradition of the freethinkers and medieval mystics with that of a militant tradition of dogmatic thinkers and purist fanatics, and on the other hand he criticises the simplified thinking of the West which sees an enemy in Islam. Meddeb places emphasis on a more detailed knowledge of tradition. In his view, writers such as Ibn Arabi, Dante and Yehuda Halevi are pioneer thinkers for a more humane world, whose philosophies touch upon one another rather than going against one another. After the shocking lecture of Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg University on 12 September 2006, Meddeb wrote in an interview with »ZEIT«: »Mohammed was a kind of successful Napoleon, which, in itself is less remarkable than the fact that there was violence in Christianity, too, which absolutely contradicts the spirit of the Gospels. Contrary to each Christian dogma there were popes who declared Holy Wars, and promised religious combatants a place in heaven. Not to speak of the violent reclamation through the Inquisition, when Jews and Muslims in Spain could only choose between exile, the stake or conversion. However, the Christians managed to overcome their historical phase of violence. Muslims are facing the same challenge today.« In his collection of essays »Contre-prêches« (tr.: Counter-preachings), for which he received the Prix international de francophonie Benjamin Fondane in 2007, he explores religious phenomena in everyday life, and unveils myths and taboos. Meddeb lives in Paris and Spain.

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