Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Rebecca Shareah Taleghani

Subject Categories

Arabic Language and Literature | Arts and Humanities | Comparative Literature | Film and Media Studies | History


Palestine, Emile Habibi, Elia Suleiman, Literature, Cinema, History


This thesis comparatively explores the emergence of the comic in the novel The Secret Life of Saeed The Pessoptimist by Emile Habibi and the film The Time That Remains directed by Elia Suleiman, by building on Bergson’s theory of mechanization. By tracing Bergson’s idea that comic effect is created through the creeping up of the mechanical on the living, the establishment of the “mechanical occupation” as a source of the comic will be elucidated. The comic will be explored in terms of the ways in which both texts offer a new historicizing operation, being works that focus on the narration of the past. More particularly, Habibi’s appropriation (or parody) of the Arabic literary heritage (turāth), as well as Suleiman’s parody of historicizing narrative forms will be conceptualized in terms of the (failing) categories of modernity, such as the nation, tradition, and history, within the context of the crises of Palestinian self-representation. Finally, the possibilities of memory-work will be explored within the transtextual space that is built from reading the two texts in dialogue, and possibilities of the application of the concept of mechanization expanded in order to demonstrate its relevance in finding connections between literary and social analysis in the context of Palestine.