A Literary Nahda Interrupted: Pre-Nakba Palestinian Literature as Adab Maqalat
Palestinian literature
Mandate Palestine
literary history
literary periodicals
digital humanities
This article delves into the pre-Nakba literary scene of the 1930s and 1940s by way of its literary periodicals. Following the work of Hanna Abu Hanna and Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, the article posits periodicals as a primary, albeit understudied, site of Palestinian literary production. Prior to the Nakba, the Palestinian literary landscape experienced a small-scale local nahda in the form of adab maqalat (periodical literature) rather than adab mu’allafat (monograph/book-form literature). However, due to the ruptures of 1948, this formative period of adab maqalat has been unexplored and remains disconnected from Palestinian literary histories. In the context of a larger project that reconnects fragmented “black hole” periods of Palestinian literary history, this article takes a step toward sketching the major elements of Palestine’s literary landscape before the Nakba.
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Was there a literary nahda (awakening or renaissance) taking place in the 1930s and 1940s in Palestine? The answer, if any, may lie buried in the periodicals of that period. “Much of the Palestinian literary tradition,” writes Palestinian poet, author, and educator Hanna Abu Hanna (1928–2022), “remains hidden in the depths of Palestinian literary—and non-literary—periodicals.”2 In the first half of the twentieth century, Palestine saw the rise of periodicals as the primary site of literary publication, debate, and analysis to a much larger extent than books and monographs. It is therefore no wonder that a prominent literary figure of the time, Ishaq Musa al-Husseini (1904–90), declared Palestinian literature as one of adab maqalat (a literature of periodicals) rather than adab mu’allafat (a literature of monographs/books).3 In an article he penned in 1945, al-Husseini distinguished between literature primarily composed of articles and literary contributions to periodicals, rather than authored books, highlighting the acuity of Abu Hanna’s approach to center periodicals as “the main source for the literary past.”4

Many of the literary contributions and discussions from that period never found their way beyond the pages of local magazines and newspapers. The events of the Nakba in 1948 resulted in the decimation of the Palestinian literary sphere, bringing to a sudden, abrupt, and tragic end any semblance of a literary infrastructure that had existed. The scale of the cultural loss was unprecedented: entire institutions, printing presses, periodicals, bookshops, cultural organizations and associations, and literary clubs and cafés were destroyed, looted, plundered, occupied, or forcibly vacated. Not to mention literary and cultural figures who were either forced to flee, passed away during or shortly after the Nakba, or dispersed and scattered around the world, sometimes without a trace. In other words, the decimation of all aspects of Palestinian society in 1948, including the cultural and literary, was on an apocalyptic scale. This rupture meant a severance of the pre-Nakba period from Palestinian literary histories of the post-1948 era. The realities of ruin and plunder therefore partly explain the challenges of researching and writing about a period whose literary protagonists and main sources seemed forever lost to us.

As part of a larger project to re-connect fragments of Palestinian literary history, this article seeks to take a step toward retracing, remapping, and reviving aspects of literary debates in the pre-Nakba period. To do so, the article will build on al-Husseini’s notion of adab maqalat and take its cue from Abu Hanna’s approach by diving into the pages of Palestinian periodicals of the time, specifically literary periodicals. This approach, however, is not without difficulty, especially as regards to locating and accessing the necessary source material. For many decades, unearthing scattered, lost, or looted periodicals, many of which were short-lived and ephemeral in nature, was a Sisyphean task. In recent years, collections of pre-Nakba material have begun to see the light, supported by various digitization projects that facilitate unprecedented access to sources. Despite such individual efforts, and in the absence of a central Palestinian archive or national library, the problems and politics of the archive remain a serious hurdle.5 With this in mind, we offer the caveat that any attempt to retrace the literary and cultural scene of the pre-Nakba period is bound to be incomplete, just as the archives themselves continue to be largely porous.

Despite the dearth of material on pre-Nakba literary history, we were able to locate, access, read, and analyze a wide enough array of periodicals from which we could gather a broad picture of the period and draw insights about literary discussion and debates taking place then. A granular reading approach allowed us to closely examine each periodical’s textual contents, including editorials, articles, special sections, and literary contributions. Using distant reading, an approach initially defined by Franco Moretti that makes use of computational tools to analyze large datasets, entailed building on data collected through close reading and manually entered into a database specifically designed for Palestinian literature. This approach provided the possibility of stepping back to look with a broader lens at paratextual and extratextual elements, trends, links, networks, movements, and trajectories. Shifting between the micro and the macro levels and combining different modes of reading is an approach that periodical studies scholar Patrick Collier encourages. Collier promotes the idea of “surface reading” as a way to tackle the challenges of reading across a variety of unconceptualized texts and discerning coherent practices at a collective level.6 In particular, we were also interested in “reading for patterns,”7 a concept that Margaret Cohen highlights when reading across periodicals. We implemented these approaches on the data-gathering level during close reading to ensure that when examined, the data collected could reveal broader patterns, trends, and recurring motifs. Building on the database, we also developed a custom-made digital tool that produces visual data models to include timelines, networks, maps, temporal evolutions, and trajectories, samples of which are also included in this article.

Furthermore, an interdisciplinary lens was important to contextualize and understand the sociopolitical and historical realities in which literary discussions and debates took place. The need for an interdisciplinary approach in periodical studies is something highlighted by Sean Latham and Robert Scholes.8 Works of history, politics, cultural studies, intellectual history, digital humanities, media studies, and journalism were consulted and integrated into the analysis for this article.9 In addition, we privileged primary sources in Arabic from the pre-Nakba period to tap into the contemporary debates and discussions of the time. In sharing these findings, the article seeks to fill crucial gaps and contribute to Palestinian literary history and to Arabic periodical studies: to the former, by delving into a “black hole” period that was condemned to obscurity; and to the latter, still a nascent field within modern Arabic literature,10 by centering periodicals and exploring a productive intersection with digital humanities.11

The article begins by giving an overview of the most important literary periodicals of the pre-Nakba period. Based on the sample of periodicals we were able to access and read, we extrapolate and introduce a selection of topics pertinent to the literary discussions and debates of the period. Topics identified include the following: what constitutes a literary figure; women writers and their literary role; the role of literature in an anti-colonial context; the status of prose, poetry, and translation; the burgeoning literary nahda; the realities of the literary market in pre-Nakba Palestine; and the first Palestinian book fair. We also highlight the immense hurdles facing Palestinian literary production in the pre-Nakba period, including persecution and imprisonment of literary figures, censorship laws, emergency regulations, inflation, war, revolts, increasing political tensions, and an extremely aggressive colonial context overall.

The Landscape of Palestinian Literary Periodicals

As pioneering writer, editor, and translator Khalil Baidas (1875–1949) relaunched his magazine, al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya, on July 26, 1919, following a long interruption due to World War I, he addressed his readers as follows: “The five years during which the magazine was severed from its readership sustained some of humankind’s most devastating losses and disasters … With the paper supply crisis still raging and the exponential rise in prices and labor costs from pre-war levels, we have nevertheless decided to publish the magazine on a weekly basis using the current format and paper grade …”12 Baidas himself had experienced considerable hardship during those years, escaping a death sentence for his support of the anti-Ottoman Arab Revolt in 1916.13 Nevertheless, he was able to bring al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya back to life and it subsequently became the lynchpin of Palestinian literary publishing. Periodical publishing in the late Ottoman period was hampered mainly by censorship: a few years’ reprieve following the restoration of the Ottoman constitution in 190814 was followed by massive crackdowns during the war years. Palestinian periodicals did not fare much better in the post-war period, which brought with it British colonial rule (1917–48), officially known as the British Mandate. Al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya, which dubbed itself Majalla adabiyya tarikhiyya fukahiyya15 (a recreational and historical literary magazine), lasted until 1923, publishing the works of writers such as Khalil al-Sakakini (1878–1953), Is‘af al-Nashashibi (1885–1948), Iskandar al-Khuri al-Baytjali (1888–1973), as well as major contributions by Khalil Baidas.

The other noteworthy magazine from this period, Zahrat al-Jamil (later named al-Zahra) was founded by playwright and translator Jamil al-Bahari (1895–1930) and it followed in al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya’s footsteps by adopting a similar subtitle.16 Content-wise, the two publications focused on fiction, whether translated, adapted, or original, with some scattered news pieces, essays, and poetry for diversity. Al-Zahra only lasted until 1927, when al-Bahari moved on to publishing al-Zuhur, a political newspaper that appeared weekly or bi-weekly.

If the 1920s was a difficult decade for periodicals in Palestine, with the literary market burgeoning under dire economic conditions, the British mandatory authorities did not make it any easier in the 1930s. After establishing its Public Information Office (PIO) in 1928 to curb the Palestinian press,17 the mandatory government passed legislation to dampen any critique of British support for Zionist colonial aspirations in Palestine. The 1933 publications law18 gave the authorities the power to suspend or shut down any publication whose content was deemed to “endanger the public sense of safety.”19 This mandate was further widened in 1936 to allow expansive censorship of all publications,20 placing the Palestinian press at the complete mercy of the censor; the laws were bolstered once more at the onset of World War II in 1939.21 In practice, this meant that the Mandate government canceled thirty-eight newspaper and magazine permits in the fifteen-year period between 1933 and 1948,22 including a number of Palestinian literary and cultural magazines, notably al-Akhlaqal-Matraqaal-Fajral-Samir, and al-Dhakhira, some of which will be discussed below. Not only did the Mandate authorities go after periodicals, they also persecuted literary figures whose literary activities were often inseparable from their political engagement. For example, as early as the spring of 1920 when the Nabi Musa celebrations turned into civil unrest, the poet Wadi‘ al-Bustani (1888–1954) was summoned for interrogation after reciting a fervently nationalist poem calling for unity among Palestinians23 and was later exiled to Beersheba.24 See Figure 1 for an interactive timeline of Palestinian literary figures’ persecution by the British authorities.

Figure 1: Screenshot of an interactive timeline showing the persecution of Palestinian literary and cultural figures during the British Mandate (1920–1948) (https://palread.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/view/47).

Sourcethe PalREAD project.

Despite the hurdles faced by both literary figures and periodicals, the Palestinian literary scene did not go into abeyance in the 1930s. In fact, one of the most interesting magazines of the period, al-Fajr, was founded in Jaffa in 1935 by writers Mahmoud Saif al-Din al-Irani (1914–74) and ‘Arif al-‘Azuni (1896–1961). Breaking with earlier traditions of magazine-making, al-Fajr presented itself as a majalla usbu‘iyya lil-thaqafa wal-fann (a weekly magazine for culture and art).25 Here, one sees a more systematic curation of cultural content within the magazine’s pages, which aimed to juxtapose local literary efforts with Arab as well as global literary and cultural production.26 A closer look at the table of contents of a single issue provides further insights into al-Fajr’s editorial policies. The July 8, 1935 issue, for example, featured an article on the tenth-century Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham;27 poems by contemporary Egyptian poets28 as well as Palestinian poets Mu’ayad Ibrahim al-Irani29 (1910–87) and Salim al-Ya‘qubi30 (1880–1946); an article on India’s Rabindranath Tagore;31 a report on Japanese cinema;32 and snippets of an interview with French journalist Andrée Viollis.33

Like many of its peers, al-Fajr did not last long,34 publishing a total of ten issues before shutting down within a year of its launch.35 The general strike and tightened censorship laws introduced during the Great Revolt in Palestine between 1936 and 1939 meant that many Palestinian writers turned to publishing in other Arab countries where the grip of censorship was weaker. For example, leftist intellectuals and literary figures based in Palestine published extensively in the Damascus-based al-Tali‘a between 1935 and 1939. It is likely that the Lebanese leftist intellectual Ra’if Khoury (1913–67), who was based in Jerusalem between 1935 and 1938 as a teacher at the Bishop Gobat School,36 connected them with the magazine. The content in al-Tali‘a was informed by Marxist ideas as the magazine’s subtitle Risalat al-tahrir al-fikri suggests.37 Al-Tali‘a saw contributions from Palestinian writers such as Najati Sidqi (1905–79),38 Abdullah Mukhlis (1878–1947),39 ‘Arif al-‘Azuni,40 and Mahmoud Saif al-Din al-Irani,41 among others. Writing in al-Tali‘a, Palestinian contributors did not directly engage with the resistance taking place as part of the 1936–39 Revolt. Whether this was related to the fear of persecution that leftists often felt or to a general editorial policy in place at the time remains unclear.

In the Egyptian al-Risala, the 1936–39 Revolt and its consequences were discussed much more openly by both Palestinian and non-Palestinian writers,42 the former more intensively up until the end of 1936, and the latter thereafter. The magazine, which was read in Palestinian intellectual circles in the 1930s and 1940s,43 published poems filled with national sentiment by poets such as Abd al-Karim al-Karmi, aka Abu Salma (1909–80),44 and Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud (1913–48).45 Al-Risala remained a key platform for Palestinian writers up until its final issue in 1953. Alongside al-Tali‘a in Damascus and al-Risala in Cairo, Beirut offered three magazines that were home to Palestinian writers going into the 1940s (see interactive map in Figure 2).

Figure 2: Screenshot of an interactive map showing the geographical locations of key pre-Nakba periodicals to which Palestinians contributed. The size of the nodes and the numbers on them indicate the concentration and number of periodicals in a single location (https://palread.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/view/48).

Sourcethe PalREAD project.


These included al-Amali, founded in 1938; the communist magazine al-Tariq, founded in 1941; and the modernist magazine al-Adib, founded in 1942.

In Palestine itself, the beginning of the 1940s saw continued censorship and economic hardship as World War II raged. Apart from al-Samir, which had a brief run in 1940 before its publication permit was canceled,46 the only magazines appearing regularly were those affiliated with the government-run Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS): first, Huna al-Quds, which was not a magazine per se but a publication of edited transcripts of radio content that began appearing in 1940; and, later, al-Muntada, which replaced Huna al-Quds in 1943. Al-Muntada added original and translated content alongside radio content and was edited by Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq (1913–99). Unsurprisingly, these two magazines were able to publish during the difficult years of the 1940s because they were a joint initiative of the PBS and PIO.47 That notwithsanding, the magazine positioned itself as dedicated to Palestinian culture. This was apparent in the subtitle Majalla shahriyya lil-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya tasdur fi Filastin, as well as in Bushnaq’s opening editorial. “This is al-Muntada,” Bushnaq wrote, “a magazine primarily for Palestinians. It is concerned with their issues and is the fruit of their labor.”48

Despite its avowed dedication to Palestinian culture,49 al-Muntada continued to be met with skepticism. In 1947, for example, after Hasan Mustafa (1914–61) took over as editor and changed its name to al-Qafila (without changing much else), he wrote an editorial deflecting criticism of the magazine by highlighting the struggles of others: “We all recall with sadness that al-Mihmaz has been lost, al-Dhakhira has run out, al-Riyad has dried up, al-Shabab has grown old, al-Qarya al-‘Arabiyya got its permit but was never published, al-Mustaqbal is now of the past, al-Ra’id has gone missing, al-Hurriyya is struggling, the daily al-Sirat is finding it hard to even appear weekly, and so on …”50 The fact that al-Qafila and its predecessor, al-Muntada, could only survive because they were financed by British government funds and considered a “propaganda publication”51 despite their financial losses, is not something Mustafa mentions. Nevertheless, the above passage succinctly summarizes the situation of Palestinian periodicals after World War II: numerous but short-lived.

The year 1945 saw the slow return of periodicals to the literary scene with al-Ghad, which was published in Jerusalem by Rabitat al-muthaqafin al-‘arab52 continuing in the leftist magazine tradition of al-Fajr and al-Tali‘a. In terms of literature and literary discussions, the magazine’s content ranged from essays on literary history53 to literary critiques54 and it also profiled literary figures.55 Poetry was limited to elegies56 and political critique.57 Another key feature of the magazine was its regularly published short story, including in translation from Russian.58 The same year also saw the publication of al-Hadaf in Jerusalem, a magazine with youth as its primary audience.

The two years prior to the Nakba saw an increase in periodical publication in Palestine, perhaps in correlation with the growing threat to Palestinian identity and nationhood. In 1946, Munir Haddad, who had previously published al-Samir, issued a new magazine called al-Mihmaz, which he edited along with writer Emile Habibi (1922–96), lawyer Hanna Naqara (1912–84), and the little known Yousef Majdalani. The magazine, which suspended publication within the same year,59 was unique in its content, featuring satirical pieces reminiscent of Habibi’s ironic style60 as well as folk poetry by Lafi Khamisa.61 Moreover, it featured women writers, such as Najwa Qa‘war (1923–2015)62 and Qadisiya Khurshid (birth and death unknown).63 Poetry was mainly utilized for political purposes,64 while short stories appeared only sporadically without being part of a regular section. Despite the magazine’s sharp political content, al-Mihmaz was clear in stating its independent position: “Our only leaning is that we are … extremely biased against all those who intend something different for this nation than what its own people intend for it.”65

Later in the same year, al-Dhakhira was founded by editor Muhammad Darwish as a Majalla usbu‘iyya lil-‘ulum wal-adab wal-funun whose purpose was to “serve the national cause through journalism.”66 In terms of its literary slant, al-Dhakira focused far more on Palestinian writers. A column appearing in the early issues of the magazine, titled “Ma‘ al-mu’alifin al-filastiniyyin” under the byline of the pseudonymic Abu Samir, reviewed works by Palestinian authors such as Akhi Ibrahim (1946) by Fadwa Tuqan (1917–2003)67 and Khalil al-Sakakini’s Ma-tayassar68 (1943). The magazine also provided a publishing platform for the younger generation, including Kamal Nasser69 (1925–73), who was to become a prominent author, poet, and political leader until his assassination in Beirut in 1973, and Issa Boullata70 (1929–2019), who also became a renowned literary scholar. Despite the fact that al-Dhakhira offered unique content, it was unable to survive beyond a year.

During the politically turbulent years of 1947 and 1948, literary magazines continued to appear in Palestine. In fact, the continuously changing magazine landscape during those final years before the rupture of the Nakba saw several writers moving between magazines, regardless of their editorial position (see interactive network in Figure 3). This vibrant literary activity all came to an abrupt end in 1948.

Figure 3: Screenshot of an interactive network showing which Palestinian literary figures contributed to which periodicals between 1945 and 1948. The size of the nodes (whether periodicals or authors) indicates the degree of contribution made or received by an author or magazine. Furthermore, the thickness of the edges linking these nodes indicates the number of contributions an author has made to a single periodical (https://palread.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/view/120).

Sourcethe PalREAD project.


The Palestinian Adib/a

On the pages of the 1930s and 1940s periodicals, a number of significant literary debates unfolded. The most important and controversial pertained to a topic inadvertently raised by Lebanese poet Salah al-Asir (1917–71) in an article that appeared in the Beirut-based al-Adib in February 1944. In the article,71 al-Asir surveys contemporary Arabic poets from different countries in the mashriq (the Levant) and from the mahjar (that is, emigré poets in North and South America). He provides a paragraph on each poet, categorized by country, giving a quick personal impression of their poetry. In his overview, he makes no mention of Palestine nor does he include the names of any Palestinian poets. His unexplained exclusion of Palestinian poets from the survey led to a flurry of articles and responses that were published by the magazine and reverberated throughout the Palestinian literary and cultural scene. While there were a number of important implications to this debate, which we will return to later, the brewing row forced writers to introduce and profile the main Palestinian literary figures of the period, shedding light on the particularities of the political situation in Palestine, specifically the dual threat of British colonialism and Zionism.

The first response to al-Asir came from the Palestinian writer Ibrahim Abd al-Sattar, who had published a book in 1940 titled Shu‘ara’ Filastin al-‘arabiyya fi thawratiha al-qawmiyya.72 Abd al-Sattar provided a short overview of Palestinian literary figures in an attempt to correct for al-Asir’s exclusion of them.73 In his list, he included theologian and editor Abdullah al-Qalqili (1899–1973), political writer Yousef Haykal (1907–89), as well as better-known names such as Khalil al-Sakakini and Abu Salma. Ishaq Musa al-Husseini also contributed to the debate with a historically expansive overview of literary life in Palestine in which he argued that although Palestine had never been a historic cultural center on the scale of Iraq or classical al-Andalus, it had nonetheless produced a number of important literary figures over the centuries. Al-Husseini enumerated a long literary lineage from Kushajim al-Ramli (d. 961/962) to Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 1449) and all the way to Ibrahim Tuqan (1905–41).74

Such efforts to profile the major producers of Palestinian literature allow a further exploration of who was considered a literary figure in the pre-Nakba period. The term most often used to describe such figures at the time was adib. However, one can see from the profiles created that the term adib covered a wide remit and it included educators, journalists, broadcasters, lawyers, religious personalities, and even civil servants. Thus, the term adib functioned as an umbrella for anyone engaged in the production and consumption of knowledge and pertained to highly developed skills in the Arabic language but not limited to literature. This looser understanding of the adib is also confirmed when one looks at the personal trajectories of different generations of Palestinian literary figures during the pre-Nakba period. A fair share of these were educators and teachers who emphasized the relationship between education, identity, and national consciousness in the colonial/Zionist context. This type of literary figure is epitomized by Khalil al-Sakakini, who founded and established the private and nationalist Nahda College. Many of the educators, such as Ali Rashid Sha‘th (1908–67) and others, also contributed to developing textbooks and curricula for schoolchildren.75

Not all literary figures were educators, however. There were also theologians-turned-writers such as Sheikh Sulayman al-Taji al-Faruqi (1882–1958) and Reverend Ni‘mat Farhat; civil servants-turned-poets and dissidents like Wadi‘ al-Bustani; entrepreneurs-turned-editors like ‘Isa al-‘Isa (1878–1950), the founder of the prominent newspaper, Filastin; polymaths like Muhammad ‘Izzat Darwaza (1888–1984) and ‘Arif al-‘Arif (1892–1973); and political activists and writers like Emile Habibi, who was affiliated with the National Liberation League since its founding in 1944 in Palestine and was later a leader in the Communist party in Israel. Also, from the mid-1930s on, broadcasting became a popular medium and several literary figures worked at the PBS in Jerusalem or at the Near East Broadcasting Station (founded 1941) in Jaffa. This was the case for Ibrahim Tuqan; playwright Asma Tubi (1905–83); writer ‘Ajjaj Nuwayhid (1897–1982); as well as Muhammad Adib al-‘Amri (1907–78) and Qadisiya Khurshid. Radio gained ground as an important new medium to promote Palestinian literature and culture.

What many of these literary figures had in common was the intertwinement of their cultural and literary production with their political activities, whether teaching Arabic literature as a way of fostering a new national consciousness or utilizing their literary work to address political issues. Many of them had great influence on younger generations. For example, Issa Boullata recalls studying Arabic using Khalil al-Sakakini’s books76 and English literature under the influence of Jabra Ibrahim Jabra77 (1919–94), both of whom left a lasting impact on the budding literary scholar.

In a context where colonialism and Zionism threatened Palestinian identity, questions about the role of the adib and of literature were discussed by a range of writers. For example, when ‘Usbat al-Qalam was established in 1935 with Ibrahim Tuqan, Abu Salma, and Ra’if Khoury, among other members,78 the league charter, published in al-Difa‘, stated, “The real adib … writes down the reader’s feelings on paper, the things they see with their eyes and touch with their hands. As for those [writers] who disregard the people and dwell in a desert of delusion and fantasy, they are the furthest away from literature.”79 This view echoed some of the content in leftist literary magazines of the time. For example, in 1936, Abdullah Mukhlis80 wrote an article arguing against the notion of “art for art’s sake,” stressing that a literature motivated by such a notion would always be distancing from the reader’s point of view. The realist literature trend continued to be favored in the 1940s by al-Ghad, where Abu Hisham (Mukhlis ‘Amr, 1908–61) published a regular column called “Al-adab al-hayy,” which shed light on ideas of social realism such as writing about and for the working class.81

However, discussions about the role of the adib and literature were not confined to leftist circles and periodicals. Al-Muntada, for example, asked three of its writers to address the question: Does literature have a message?82 In a curated number of responses, politician and writer Anwar Nusseibeh (1913–86) took up the so-called moderate position, arguing that the literary spectrum should allow for texts motivated by different intentions to coexist.83 Meanwhile, Salim Salim contended that as long as a bleak social reality existed in Arab societies, literature must work to elevate these conditions.84 Finally, Ishaq Musa al-Husseini wrote that “good literature” was a message within itself although such literature remained rare.85 Interestingly, three years later, al-Husseini revisited the topic, this time emphasizing that the writing of the “true adib” would always maintain an awareness of the nation for and in which they lived.86

Palestinian literary magazines generally opted for the masculine form when using the term adib (that is, without the feminine “a” suffix), despite the growing presence of women writers on their pages during the 1930s and 1940s. While it is clear that women writers were a minority in the sample studied here, the sparsity of female writers is attributable, at least in part, to low education rates resulting from colonial education policies that disadvantaged women.87 The British colonial government often failed to provide the requisite infrastructure for education despite numerous pleas by Palestinians, including specific calls for girls’ schools, as evidenced by an article published on the topic by al-Ghad in June 1946.88

Two often overlooked female literary figures are Sadhij Nassar89 (1900–70) and Mary Sarruf Shihada90 (1900–91), each of whom was married to owners of prominent Palestinian newspapers—respectively Najib Nassar (1865–1948), the editor of al-Karmil, and Bulus Shihada (1882–1943), who ran Mir’at al-Sharq—but who, more importantly, undertook key editorial work in those publications. Women writers were also active across literary fields in Palestine: Fadwa Tuqan in poetry;91 Asma Tubi in drama;92 ‘Anbara Salam Khalidi93 (1897–1986) in translation; Najwa Qa‘war94 and Jamal Nuwayhid [pseudonym Sawsan]95 (1907–94) in short stories and Salma Khadra al-Jayyusi96 (1926–) and Qadisiya Khurshid in essays.97

In an essay published by al-Mihmaz in 1946,98 Najwa Qa‘war points out that many women writers were restricted in subject matter to themes deemed fitting to their gender and often refrained from venturing into other political, social, or cultural topics. While Qa‘war emphasizes the importance of women writing about women’s issues, she criticizes women writers for restricting themselves to this arena. While she associates this tendency with social pressure,99 it is likely that the editorial outlook of the periodicals themselves also played a role. Many periodicals in the 1940s featured a women’s section: al-Muntada called it “Al-qism al-nasawi” (women’s section), a rubric mostly made up of articles on health or cooking100 with a few social and cultural pieces such as Jamila Khouri’s article on women’s poetry.101 In comparison, al-Mihmaz featured more serious contributions by women writers, including essays by Qa‘war.102 Al-Mihmaz also included a regular women’s section titled “Lil-nisa’ faqat,” which devoted content to issues of romance, marriage, and beauty, albeit with an occasionally ironic twist.

In addition, with the inclusion of photographs in the 1940s, it was common for periodicals to feature Hollywood stars/starlets on their front or back covers. At times, the caption was simply the featured actress’s name103 but there were also captions that read, for example, “a noble example of motherhood: when will the Arab woman understand such a thing?”104 Al-Muntada’s readers questioned the use of such photographs and captions and requested that “exemplars of Arab Palestinian beauty”105 replace them—a request apparently fulfilled by the editors “despite difficulties unknown to the reader.”106

Poetry, Prose, and Translations

What was the nature of literary contributions in the pre-Nakba period? In her Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Salma Khadra al-Jayyusi107 suggests that it is important to differentiate between the functions of prose and poetry during that period. On the one hand, poetry was already a very well-established genre with a diverse audience that was large and dedicated; poetry “tended to react spontaneously to events, drifting along with the semantic intention of the poem, and satisfying itself with the expression of a specific message.”108 In this sense, poetry took on a more direct and immediate political role. For example, when the British governor’s office requested that al-Karmil publish a poem by Iraqi poet Ma‘ruf al-Rusafi (1875–1945) that had been recited at an event in praise of British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, the newspaper’s editor, Najib Nassar, would not publish it until commissioning a poem in response from Wadi‘ al-Bustani.109 Prose writing, on the other hand, whether in the form of short stories or novels, was a relatively new genre to the Arabic literary tradition and writers were still experimenting with this form and attempting to emulate Western fiction.110 In this regard, fiction tended toward dealing with social and moral topics where didacticism and/or entertainment were key to the function of the text.111

It can be argued that periodicals were much more central to the development and evolution of fiction than to that of poetry. While poetry circulated in a number of different fora, both in print periodicals and orally at political and literary events, it was specifically in literary magazines that the new forms of the short story and the serialized novel would thrive. Both al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya and al-Zahra were frontrunners in publishing serialized novels by editors Khalil Baidas and Jamil al-Bahari. Meanwhile, most magazines had a regular “story of the issue” section, which featured original, adapted, or translated texts. However, it was not always clear who the original author of a text was. For example, in March 1946, al-Muntada published a short story that was translated and abridged by Musa al-Sa‘udi without mentioning the author’s name or the original language of the text.112

Translation was instrumental in providing new exemplars of fiction in Palestinian literary magazines. Khalil Baidas was a pioneer in this regard, with his translations of Russian literature113 as well as from French114 and Italian.115 Najati Sidqi116 and Jamil al-Bahari,117 among many others,118 were also key to bringing foreign texts to Palestinian readers.

A Late Literary Nahda

The term nahda gained currency in Palestinian literary and cultural circles around the beginning of the 1940s. The term’s use to describe the cultural renaissance of the late nineteenth century in Lebanon and Egypt is relatively well researched.119 Palestine was not central to this development and Palestinian literary figures considered their literary movement of the 1930s and 1940s to represent a late cultural awakening. In an article published in al-Muntada in 1945,120 Hanna Abu Hanna, then a seventeen-year-old student, outlines the three key drivers of this development as the spread of education, growing cultural exchanges with the West as well as with neighboring Arab countries, and the tense political and social situation in Palestine. In another article in al-Muntada, editor Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq provides a concrete description of what he means by “our current nahda”:

In my opinion, the condition of Palestinian literature today calls for optimism, as those involved in the literary movement have gone from the realm of talk to that of production. The youth are no longer satisfied with the expression of generalized and vague criticism or empty and illusory hopes but have instead gone on to set up publishing houses, write books, and edit magazines despite punishing financial obstacles before them. A worthy category of poets, historians, scientists, and novelists has emerged, with women no mere onlookers but engaged in writing, broadcasting, and lecturing as well as taking an unprecedented interest in reading.121

For his part, Ishaq Musa al-Husseini writes that many considered 1939 as the real starting point of a Palestinian cultural and literary awakening.122 Regardless of whether it is possible to pinpoint the exact time of the Palestinian nahda’s emergence, there were already discussions about it in the 1930s. “There is no doubt that our country is witnessing a young intellectual movement that is growing and becoming stronger,” the editors of al-Fajr wrote in 1935,123 while acknowledging that this nascent intellectual movement still lacked clarity.124

In the 1940s, there was more widespread discussion of a nahda, with articles questioning whether modern Arabic literature had played enough of a role in guiding “our national nahda.”125 The editors at al-Hadaf positioned their magazine as a contributor to the movement, articulating their objective as “to support the social nahda in the country.”126 From such references, it is clear that many Palestinian intellectuals of the 1940s considered that the Arab nahda, with its roots in the previous century, had finally reached Palestine.

The Literary Market

Talk of a nahda during the late Mandate period, particularly a literary one, is connected to debates about placing Palestine on the Arab cultural and literary map as made clear by the heated debate generated by al-Adib magazine. There is no doubt that local Palestinian periodicals looked to Egypt and Lebanon as their role models given the latter’s centrality in literary production. Palestinian periodicals often shared literary news from Cairo or Beirut through reportage pieces from their correspondents.127 Furthermore, the Palestinian literary market was flooded with Egyptian and Lebanese publications and periodicals. This in effect meant that Palestinian periodicals faced tough competition at all levels, whether in terms of content, printing, circulation, or distribution.128 Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq writes in al-Muntada, “From a young age, our readers have been use to Egyptian and Syrian books and, until recently, they met the appearance of a Palestinian book with skepticism, considering it an occurrence more worthy of wonder than interest.”129

The continuous comparisons between literary production in Palestine and neighboring countries may have been fueled by the fact that many Palestinian literary figures traveled, lived, and/or studied abroad. In the absence of an Arab university in Palestine throughout the Mandate period (a reality that persists until today in the areas occupied in 1948), many aspiring litterateurs and intellectuals sought their education elsewhere. Some went to Cairo’s universities, including poet Muhammad Hassan ‘Alaa’ al-Din (1917–73) and writer Abd al-Hamid Yasin (1906–75), while many others, including Ibrahim Tuqan and Ahmad Samih al-Khalidi (1896–1951), studied at the American University of Beirut. A few young men also obtained government scholarships to study in the UK, including Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra. Moreover, for those exiled to Iraq after the 1936–39 Revolt, such as Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud and Burhan al-Din al-‘Abushi (1911–95), they were exposed to more vibrant cultural milieus.

Despite the transnational movement of literary figures, the reach of Palestinian literary production remained quite limited. Revisiting the debates that took place on the pages of al-Adib in 1944–45 sheds light on the challenges that literary production in pre-Nakba Palestine faced. One of al-Adib’s readers from Kuwait ignited the debate by arguing that Palestinian writers were reluctant to publish outside their country and that Palestinian periodicals were not widely available in the Arab world.130 This argument was not well received inside Palestine and a series of articles appeared in response. Ishaq Jarallah from Haifa wrote about the key hurdles facing literary production in Palestine: political turmoil, which limited the possibilities for writing; tough censorship conditions; a problem of inflation that made publishing in Palestine very costly; and the much cheaper availability of Egyptian, Lebanese, and other foreign publications.131 In a rejoinder in the subsequent issue, Michel Jubran of Nazareth stressed that Palestine’s literary nahda might not be as accessible to an outsider due to the political specificities of the Palestinian struggle and the use of literature in this struggle.132

In his al-Adib article as part of that debate, Ishaq Musa al-Husseini notes that Palestinian literary production is one of adab maqalat rather than adab mu’allafat, making it less accessible to the general public.133 In practice, this meant that the majority of literary works appeared as periodical contributions and were rarely, if ever, collected and published in book form, whether as poetry collections, novels, or short stories. Given that book publishing in Palestine was an uncommon practice prior to the Nakba, it is no wonder that none of the three most well-known poets of their generation—Ibrahim Tuqan, Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud, and Abu Salma—had a single poetry collection published during that period. The first two had works published posthumously while Abu Salma’s work appeared in a printed collection only after 1948. At the same time, few prose writers were keen on book publishing, including Khalil Baidas, Iskandar al-Khuri al-Baytjali, and Khalil al-Sakakini, among others.

In fact, most books that appeared in the pre-Nakba period were self-publishing initiatives and printed by presses such as Matba‘at bayt al-maqdis (Jerusalem Printing Press) and Al-maktaba al-‘asriyya (Modern Bookshop) in Jaffa. Publishing houses as we know them today did not exist for literary work. In one of his editorials in al-Muntada, Bushnaq describes the process of self-publishing as follows:

The Palestinian book is a piteous creature … once the writer is done and sends [his manuscript] to the printing press, it is likely to be received by an ignorant typesetter who can barely read the letters he is setting and thus its pages fill up with awful mistakes. Following some monotonous and dark months, the book emerges from the printing press to enter the battleground of life. It is then that the writer’s troubles multiply. In our country, the writer is by necessity a typesetter, a paper merchant, and a postal worker all at once.134

Although he does not explicitly state this, Bushnaq may have been referring to his own experience of self-publishing the translation of Arthur Quiller-Couch’s The Splendid Spur in 1939, produced by the Jerusalem Printing Press.

The First Palestinian Book Fair, 1946

The idea that the Palestinian literary scene had been experiencing a nahda at home that remained unnoticed by the outside world was a cause of concern for Palestinian literary figures. As Ishaq Musa al-Husseini put it, “Many have come to believe the illusion that our country has not contributed to cultural life. Such a claim is both wrong and harmful.”135 To counter this belief, a group called Lajnat al-thaqafa al-arabiyya fi Filastin was founded in 1945 to document, archive, and exhibit Palestinian literary and cultural production.136 Alongside al-Husseini, the group represented the adib as described above in all its maleness and diversity of professions. The committee included lawyer Sa‘di Bseiso (1912–2001), politician Rashad al-Shawa (1909–88), agriculturist Ali Nasuh al-Tahir (1907–82), teacher Shafiq Tarazi (1906–84), and poets Muhammad al-‘Adnani (1903–81) and Mahmoud al-Hout (1916–89).137

One of the main achievements of this group was to organize the first ever Arab Palestinian book fair in Jerusalem in October 1946. In describing their main motivation, they stated that “the nation that does not preserve its language, literature, and culture is susceptible to being washed away and severed from its national identity.”138 The book fair itself aimed to collect and exhibit every single book published by Palestinians since printing presses became widely available.139 While that goal was unrealistic, the group was not aided by the lack of systematic archiving. For example, when the committee got in touch with Khalil Baidas to document his works, Baidas initially provided thirteen titles. But when he checked his personal library, he realized to his own amazement that he had in fact written forty-four books.140 Despite similar hurdles, the group managed to document (See Figure 4) and exhibit almost eight hundred publications at the book fair.141 However, Nicola Ziadeh (1907–2006) argued that this number was not as impressive as it may have seemed as the quality of the books was generally poor.142

Figure 4: Lajnat al-thaqafa al-ʿarabiyya fi Filastin [The Arab Cultural Committee in Palestine], Al-kitab al-ʿarabi al-filastini [The Arab Palestinian Bibliography] (Jerusalem: Matbaʿat al-liwaʾ al-tijariyya, 1946).

SourceSamir Mustafa Abu Dheis CollectionBirzeit University


The committee had big plans in terms of promoting and documenting Palestinian culture, such as publishing a magazine provisionally titled al-Qalam, establishing an archive/library,143 and founding a publishing house similar to those in Egypt at the time.144 Alas, these plans never came to fruition as the events of the Nakba led such budding initiatives to a dead end.

Nakba Ruptures and Continuities

Heeding Hanna Abu Hanna’s call to delve more deeply into the pages of periodicals, this article seeks to revive and reintroduce literary figures, debates, and the literary magazines of the pre-Nakba period, a period that has generally fallen off the radar of Palestinian literary histories whose starting point is the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba. Although the decimation of Palestinian culture as a result of the Nakba created an apocalyptic rupture between pre- and post-1948, it is striking that many literary trends, conditions, and debates described in this study persist in Palestinian literature today. While concepts may have evolved, for example from a politically-charged literary nahda in the service of the national cause to a literature of resistance, what persists are the conditions of struggle to which Palestinian literary figures continue to be subjected, whether under the oppressive rule of the Ottomans, the British, or the Israelis.

The periodicals studied demonstrate that the semblance of a burgeoning literary nahda was constantly interrupted, stunted, stopped, or altogether crushed. Despite being branded a late nahda, the nature of this renaissance differed from that of late nineteenth-century Egypt and Lebanon. The Palestinian literary nahda, with its nationalist bent and stop-and-start nature, did not reverberate regionally and remained largely inaccessible to those unaware of the political specificities of Palestine at the time. Censorship combined with a colonial context of rising political tensions, revolts, and wars meant that despite numerous attempts to establish literary periodicals, many lasted no more than a year. Palestinian literary figures needed to find alternative outlets and they turned to Egyptian, Lebanese, or Syrian periodicals, especially during the 1936–39 Revolt. The years of the revolt constituted the first concrete efforts by the British Mandate authorities to decimate Palestine’s intellectual leadership, a colonial project that was then fully realized on a societal level by Zionist militias in and after 1948.

The difficult political, economic, and cultural realities in Palestine meant that Palestinian literature did not circulate sufficiently in the Arab world, especially in its form of adab maqalat, primarily published in local periodicals as Ishaq Musa al-Husseini described it at the time. In this context, it is not surprising to see the omission of Palestinian literature from discussions of Arabic literature of the period, even though a literary nahda was certainly being discussed in Palestinian periodicals. These profiled and lauded the main protagonists of this nahda, personified by the male adib, for their mastery of the Arabic language and their production of knowledge. A broad definition of the adib during that period reveals that included in the ranks of literary figures were journalists, broadcasters, theologians, educators, politicians, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and civil servants. Periodicals were not only the primary venue of literary publication and dissemination; they also played a crucial role in the evolution of prose genres especially since poetry was well-established with its own oral and print circulation routes. Literary competition from Egypt and Lebanon made it difficult for the Palestinian literary market to hold its own. This did not halt ongoing initiatives to promote Palestinian literature, however, and such efforts would culminate in the organization of the first ever Palestinian book fair in 1946.

Through literary vignettes captured from periodicals, this article offers a preliminary sketch of Palestinian literature in the pre-Nakba period. More extensive research is needed to uncover the intricacies and nuances of literary life, production, publishing, infrastructure, and circulation during this period. Future efforts, focused on content analysis, granular readings, and distant readings of Palestinian periodicals will continue to be crucial to the integration of this forgotten period into Palestinian literary histories.



1 This article is the outcome of research conducted as part of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project PalREAD-Country of Words (Reading and Reception of Palestinian Literature from 1948 to the Present), led by principal investigator Refqa Abu-Remaileh. It is part of a series of forthcoming articles, conceptualized by Abu-Remaileh, on little-known periods and overlooked aspects of Palestinian literary history. Further acknowledgement goes to PalREAD team member Heba Tebakhi, who contributed to the scholarly discussions in the development phase of this article, obtained access to crucial primary sources, and supported the data entry to produce the visualizations included in this article. Thanks is also due to JPS associate editor maia tabet for supporting the translation of a number of the primary source extracts that are quoted in the article. Translations are by authors unless otherwise stated. Authors are listed in alphabetical order, with Refqa Abu-Remaileh as the corresponding author.

2 Hanna Abu Hanna, “Al-sihafa al-adabiyya fi Filastin” in Rihlat al-bahth ‘an al-turath (Haifa: Al-wadi lil-tiba‘a wal-nashr, 1994), 25.

3 Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, “Al-hayat al-adabiyya fi Filastin,” al-Adib, May 1945, 47.

4 Abu Hanna, “Al-sihafa al-adabiyya fi Filastin,” 25.

5 See Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2007), xxxv: “There is no central repository of Palestinian records, and a vast quantity of private Palestinian archival material—a considerable portion of the patrimony of an entire people—has been either irretrievably lost or was carried off by Israel, to be deposited in the Israeli national library and national archives.”

6 Patrick Collier, “What Is Modern Periodical Studies?” The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 6, no. 2 (2015): 92–111.

7 Margaret Cohen, “Narratology in the Archive of Literature,” Representations 108, no. 1 (Fall 2009): 51–75,.

8 Sean Latham and Robert Scholes, “The Rise of Periodical Studies,” Publications of Modern Language Association 121, no. 2 (March 2006): 517.

9 Sources not cited elsewhere in the article include: Maha Nassar, Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017), 15–45; Faisal Darraj, Dhakirat al-maghlubin: Al-hazima wal-sihyuniyya fi al-kitab al-thaqafi al-filastini (Casablanca: Al-markaz al-thaqafi al-‘arabi, 2002); Mohammed Basil Suleiman, “Early Printing Presses in Palestine: A Historical Note,” Jerusalem Quarterly, no. 36: 79–91.

10 For a selection of works on Arabic periodicals, see: Sabry Hafez, “Cultural Journals and Modern Arabic Literature: A Historical Overview,” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 37 (2017): 9–49; Elisabeth Kendall, Literature, Journalism and the Avant-Garde (London: Routledge, 2006); Stephen Sheehi, “Arabic Literary-Scientific Journals: Precedence for Globalization and the Creation of Modernity,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25, no. 2 (2005), 438–48; Basilius Bawardi, The Magazine Shi‘r and the Poetics of Modern Arabic Poetry: A Textual Study (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2019); Robyn Creswell, City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019); Otared Haidar, The Prose Poem and the Journal Shir: A Comparative Study of Literature, Literary Theory and Journalism (Berkshire, UK: Ithaca Press, 2008); Hala Halim, “Lotus, the Afro-Asian Nexus, and Global South Comparatism,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32, no. 3 (2012): 563–83; Elizabeth M. Holt, “‘Bread or Freedom’: The Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA, and the Arabic Literary Journal Hiwār (1962-67),” Journal of Arabic Literature 44, no. 1 (January 2013), 83–102; Olivia C. Harrison, “Souffles-Anfas: Palestine and the Decolonization of Culture,” in Transcolonial Maghreb: Imagining Palestine in the Era of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015).

11 While digital archives of Arabic periodicals have grown in recent years, with the most prominent example being al-Sharekh archive, the majority of research on Arabic periodicals has been limited to scans obtained during fieldwork trips. Without accessible Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for right-to-left languages, Arabic will continue to lag behind left-to-right languages. To date, manual data entry and analysis is the status quo. These processes are very time-consuming and labor-intensive, thereby hindering the gathering of big data on Arabic periodicals, which has not been the case for Latin-based language periodicals.

12 Khalil Baidas, “Al-nafa’is al-‘asriyya fi sanatiha al-sabi’a,” al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya, July 1919, 1–2.

13Khalil Baidas,” Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question, accessed November 19, 2021.

14 Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 53.

15 Al-Nafa’is al-‘Asriyya, July 1919, front page. The term fukaha was used here to refer to forms of prosaic entertainment, such as the short story and novel, rather than to describe the content. For a full explanation, see Hanna Abu Hanna, Tal‘i’ al-nahda fi Filastin (kharriju al-madaris al-­rusiyya) 1862–1914 (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2005), 71, fn1.

16 See for example: al-Zahra, May 1922, front page.

17 Muhammad Sulaiman, Al-sihafa al-filastiniyya wa-qawanin al-intidab al-britani (Nicosia: Bisan Press and Publication Institute Ltd., 1988), 23.

18 “Qanun al-matbu‘at raqam 3 li-sanat 1933,” al-Waqa‘i’ al-Filastiniyya, no. 340 (July 19, 1933): 70–98.

19 Yousef Khoury, Al-sihafa al-‘arabiyya fi Filastin 1876–1948 (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1986), 178.

20 Khoury, Al-sihafa, 192.

21 Khoury, Al-sihafa, 95–202.

22 Sulaiman, al-sihafa al-filastiniyya, 76–9.

23 Abd al-Rahman Yaghi, Hayat al-adab al-filastini al-hadith qabl al-nakba (Beirut: Al-Maktab al-tijari: 1968), 98.

24Wadi‘ Faris al-Bustani,” Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question, accessed November 19, 2021.

25 al-Fajr, June 21, 1935, cover.

26 “Risalat al-fajr,” al-Fajr, June 21, 1935, 48.

27 Qadri Hafiz Tuqan, “‘Ulama’na al-‘arab al-‘alamiyyun,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 11.

28 Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi, “Al-ma‘bad,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 35; Ibrahim Naji, “Ilayha,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 36.

29 Mu’ayad Ibrahim al-Irani, “Bayn al-ka’s wal-ya’s,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 35.

30 Salim al-Ya‘qubi, “Ina marma al-‘arab fi fajr al-shabab,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 36.

31 Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, “Rabandranat taghur: shi‘ruhu wa-falsaftuhu,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 2–4.

32 Zuhdi, “Al-Sinama,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 42–3.

33 “Hadith li-andriyah fiyulis,” al-Fajr, July 8, 1935, 37.

34 Hanna Abu Hanna claims that the abrupt cessation of the magazine was due to internal conflicts. See Abu Hanna, “Al-sihafa al-adabiyya fi Filastin,” 32. However, Muhammad Sulaiman lists it as one of the magazines that lost its permit from the censor. See Sulaiman, Qawanin al-intidab, 55, 57.

35 Khoury, Al-sihafa, 81.

36 Samah Idris, “Muthaqqafan wa-wataniyyan wa-qawmiyyan ‘arabiyyan,” al-Akhbar, November 2, 2013.

37 Al-Tali‘a, March 1936, cover.

38 Najati Sidqi, “Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun: awal faylasuf ‘arabi yuhawil tafsir al-tarikh maddiyyan,” al-Tali‘a, January 1937, 6–13; Najati Sidqi, “Al-lqa‘ al-musiqi al-tasi‘ li-baythofen,” al-Tali‘a, February 1937, 127–32.

39 Abdullah Mukhlis, “Al-udaba’ al-mughridun,”, al-Tali‘a, March 1936, 63–7.

40 ‘Arif al-‘Azuni, “Wajib al-katib al-yawm,” al-Tali‘a, February 1937, 120–6.

41 Mahmoud Saif al-Din al-Irani, “Min masrahiyyat al-lahab: al-fasl al-awal, al-mashhad al-rabi‘,” al-Tali‘a, May 1937, 363–70.

42 For example, see, Ibrahim al-Mazini, “Filastin la tuqhar,” al-Risala, October 10, 1938, 1643–4.

43 Fadwa Tuqan, Rihla jabaliyya rihla sa‘ba, 2nd ed. (Amman: Dar al-shuruq, 1985), 112.

44 For example, Abu Salma, “Jabal al-nar,” al-Risala, August 3, 1936, 1269.

45 Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud, “Al-sha‘b al-basil,” al-Risala, August 31, 1936, 1434.

46 Sulaiman, Al-sihafa al-filastiniyya, 79.

47 Khoury, Al-sihafa, 109.

48 “Al-Muntada,” al-Muntada, April 1, 1943, 1.

49 The occasional piece of propaganda did make its way to the pages of the magazine. See for example al-Muntada, National Library of Israel, July 1, 1943, ii. In addition, the magazine regularly featured pieces on various aspects of life in Britain, such as “Al-rafaha al-sina‘iyya fi britanya,” al-Muntada, June 28, 1946, 10–11.

50 Hasan Mustafa, “Al-qafila tasir,” al-Qafila, May 30, 1947, 3.

51 “Al-Muntada,” “Al-Muntada” Monthly Journal (now ‘Al-Qafila’),” file PR/32/44, Chief Secretary’s Office, July 7, 1946, Israel State Archives, 30–34.

52 The league was a reformulation of a previous student association known as Rabitat al-tullab al-‘arab, established in 1937 by Abdullah al-Bandak (1910–74). The association was closely connected to the National Liberation League, established by Palestinians after the demise of the Palestine Communist Party. Up until the publication of al-Ghad, the association was focused on delivering lectures on social and political topics, providing evening literacy classes, and organizing meetings between notables, activists, and laborers. For more, see Musa Budeiri, The Palestine Communist Party 1919–1948: Arab and Jew in the Struggle for Internationalism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010), 129–30.

53 Mahmud al-Abdi, “Athar al-islam fi al-kumidiya al-ilahiyya,” al-Ghad, July 6, 1945, 12.

54 For example, Husni Fariz, “Rukud al-shi‘r,” al-Ghad, January 3, 1947, 12, 21.

55 For example, Fu’ad al-Wandawi, “Hadha al-‘aqqad,” al-Ghad, February 1, 1946, 9–10.

56 For example, Abu Salma, “Rafiq al-tarikh: ‘Umar al-Fakhuri,” al-Ghad, November 1, 1946, 17.

57 For example, Elias Abu Shabaka, “Min qasidat al-sha‘ir al-hurr yukhatib al-sultan al-dhalim,” al-Ghad, October 12, 1945, 7.

58 For example, Maxim Gorki, “Habibaha” [“Her Lover,” 1897], trans. Jurj Dahbura, al-Ghad, April 11, 1947, 15–17.

59 Khoury, Al-sihafa, 122.

60 For example, “Hadith Shahrazad,” al-Mihmaz, July 7, 1946, 2, 23.

61 For example, Lafi Khamisa, “Hukm qurqash,” al-Mihmaz, May 5, 1946, 17.

62 For example, Najwa Qa‘war, “Mujtama yuhadiq bil-mir’a,” al-Mihmaz, March 24, 1946, 2.

63 Qadisiya Khurshid, “Ta’amulat al-rabi‘,” al-Mihmaz, April 11, 1946, 4.

64 For example, Suhail Zantut, “Lahfi ‘ala watan yuba‘ wa-yushtara,” al-Mihmaz, April 21, 1946, 18.

65 “Lil-‘adad al-awal faqat! Al-ballut wal-kastana’ wal-shaykh zanki wal-mihmaz,” al-Mihmaz, February 10, 1946, 2.

66 Muhammad Darwish, “Yaqul al-muharir,” al-Dhakhira, October 6, 1946, 3.

67 Abu Samir, “Akhi Ibrahim,” al-Dhakhira, October 6, 1946, 13.

68 Abu Samir, “Ma-tayasar,” al-Dhakhira, October 13, 1946, 14.

69 Kamal Nasser, “Hadhihi al-sahra’,” al-Dhakhira, December 15, 1946, 18.

70 Issa Boullata, “Al-ra‘i Samir,” al-Dhakhira, November 18, 1946, 8–9.

71 Salah Asir, “Sha‘ir yatahadath ‘an shu‘ara’ mu‘asirin,” al-Adib, February 1944, 25–8.

72 Ibrahim Abd al-Sattar, “Ina fi Filastin shu‘ara’,” al-Adib, April 1944, 57.

73 Ibrahim Abd al-Sattar, “Lamha ‘an udabaʾ Filastin,” al-Adib, September 1944, 49–50.

74 Al-Husseini, “Al-hayat,” 46–7.

75 For textbook examples see: Ali Rashid Sha‘th, Min al-binisilin ila al-qunbila al-dharriyya (Jaffa: Al-maktaba al-‘asriyya, 1946); Nicola Ziadeh, Shakhsiyat ‘arabiyya (Jaffa: Al-maktaba al-‘asriyya, 1945); Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, Asalib tadris al-lugha al-‘arabiyya fi al-sufuf al-ibtida‘iyya (Jerusalem: Matba‘at bayt al-maqdis, n.d.).

76 Issa Boullata, The Bells of Memory: A Palestinian Boyhood in Jerusalem (Montreal: Linda Leith Publishing, 2014), 17–18.

77 Boullata, The Bells of Memory, 41.

78 Ahmad Farhat, “And Always Too Late” [in Arabic], The New Arab, May 3, 2016.

79 ‘Usbat al-Qalam, “‘Ahd ‘usbat al-qalam wa-mithaquha,” al-Difa‘, no. 492, November 27, 1935, 2.

80 Mukhlis, “Al-mughridun,” 63–7.

81 Abu Hisham, “Al-adab wal-tabaqat 3,” al-Ghad, February 1, 1946, 7–8.

82 Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, Anwar Nusseibeh, and Salim Salim, “Hal lil-adab risala?” al-Muntada, July 1944, 4, 16.

83 Al-Husseini, Nusseibeh, and Salim, “Hal lil-adab risala?” 4, 16.

84 Al-Husseini, Nusseibeh, and Salim, “Hal lil-adab risala?” 4, 16.

85 Al-Husseini, Nusseibeh, and Salim, “Hal lil-adab risala?” 4.

86 Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, “Bayn al-adab wal-hayat,” al-Qafila, July 4, 1947, 3.

87 Ellen Fleischmann, The Nation and Its “New” Women: The Palestinian Women’s Movement, 1920–1948 (Berkley: University of California Press, 2003), 38; Ela Greenberg, Preparing the Mothers of Tomorrow: Education and Islam in Mandate Palestine (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010).

88 See “Ahali Filastin yasirrun ‘ala ta‘lim fatayatihim,” al-Ghad, June 21, 1946, 6.

89 Hanan ‘Asali Shihabi, Al-mar’a al-filastiniyya fi ‘ahd al-intidab al-britani (Limassol, Cyprus: Rimal Books, 2016), 273–9.

90 Shihabi, Al-mar’a, 280–7.

91 For example, Fadwa Tuqan, “Ayn amsi,” al-Muntada, April 1, 1944, 25.

92 For example, Asma Tubi, Masra‘ qaysar rusya wa-‘a’ilatuh: Masrahiyya (Acre: n.p., 1925).

93 For example, Al-odisya wal-ilyadha li-homerus, trans. Anbara Salam Khalidi (Cairo: Dar al-ma‘arif, 1945).

94 For example, Najwa Qa‘war, “Hakim al-maqha,” al-Ghad, May 23, 1947, 14–15.

95 For example, Sawsan, “Kinz al-‘ajuz,” al-Arab, October 21, 1934, 11–12.

96 For example, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “Hal ansaf al-islam al-mar’a,” al-Qafila, November 14, 1947, 8, 16.

97 For example, Khurshid, “Ta’amulat,” 4.

98 Najwa Qa‘war, “Kalima la bud minha,” al-Mihmaz, June 16, 1946, 15, 21.

99 Qa‘war, “Kalima,” 15, 21.

100 For example, Mary Shahla, “Al-‘ilm wal-tabkh,” al-Muntada, June 7, 1946, 5.

101 For example, Jamila Khuri, “Al-shi‘r al-nisa’i” al-Muntada, June 1, 1944, 22.

102 Najwa Qa‘war, “Bayn al-qawmiyya wal-insaniyya,” al-Mihmaz, July 14, 1946, 10.

103 For example, al-Muntada, March 1, 1945, back cover.

104 Al-Dhakhira, November 24, 1946, 14.

105 Al-Muntada, April 24, 1946, back cover.

106 Al-Muntada, April 24, 1946, back cover.

107 Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “Introduction: Palestinian Literature in Modern Times,” in Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, ed. Salma Khadra Jayyusi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 1–16.

108 Jayyusi, “Introduction,” 7.

109 Yaghi, Hayat al-adab, 182–4.

110 Jayyusi, “Introduction,” 11–12.

111 Jayyusi, “Introduction,” 14–15.

112 “Dalalat al-hawa,” trans. Musa al-Sa‘udi, al-Muntada, March 1, 1946, 11–12.

113 Hussam al-Khatib, Harakat al-tarjama al-filastiniyya (Beirut: Mu’asassat al-dirasat al-‘arabiyya, 1995), 17.

114 See Al-nafa’is al-‘asriyya, December 1919, 16.

115 For example, Emilio Salgari, Al-hasna’ al-mutanakira, trans. Khalil Baidas (Jerusalem: Al-nafa’is al-‘asriyya, 1911).

116 Al-Khatib, Harakat al-tarjama, 18.

117 Al-Bahari often adapted works of European fiction into plays, rather than opting for directly translating these works. See, for example, Jamil al-Bahari, “Fi sabil al-sharaf,” al-Zahra, May 1, 1926, Issue Supplement, 1–76.

118 For a list of translated books by Palestinian writers, see al-Khatib, Harakat al-tarjama.

119 For example, Mahir al-Sharif, “Qira’a fi khitab ‘asr al-nahda” [A Reading in Nahda’s Discourse], al-Karmil, October 2000, 5–42.

120 Hanna Abu Hanna, “Al-nahda al-adabiyya fi Filastin,” al-Muntada, November 1945, 17.

121 Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq, “Fi al-adab al-filastini,” al-Muntada, April 5, 1946, 2.

122 Al-Husseini, “Al-hayat,” 47.

123 “Risalat al-fajr,” 1.

124 “Risalat al-fajr,” 48.

125 Hazim Zaki Nusseibeh, “Nazra fi al-adab al-‘arabi al-hadith,” al-Muntada, May 1, 1944, 14.

126 Jibra’il Dib, “Min kursi al-muharrir,” al-Hadaf, November 21, 1945, 3.

127 For example, al-Badawi al-Mulatham, “Suwar adabiyya min al-qahira,” al-Dhakhira, October 13, 1946, 9.

128 Munir Haddad, “Al-Samir,” al-Samir, February 25, 1940, 1.

129 Abd al-Rahman Bushnaq, “Maskin,” al-Muntada, May 10, 1946, 2.

130 Abd al-‘Aziz al-Gharballi, “Al-intaj al-adabi fi Filastin,” al-Adib, December 1944, 50.

131 Ishaq Jarallah, “Da’alat al-intaj al-adabi fi Filastin,” al-Adib, January 1945, 57.

132 Michel Jubran, “Difa’ ‘an al-adab al-filastini,” al-Adib, February 1945, 57–8.

133 Al-Husseini, “Al-hayat,” 46–7.

134 Bushnaq, “Maskin,” 2.

135 Ishaq Musa al-Husseini, “Al-ta’lif fi Filastin,” al-Muntada, May 31, 1946, 4.

136 Al-Husseini, “Al-ta’lif,” 4.

137 “Lajnat al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya,” Al-kitab al-‘arabi al-filastini (Jerusalem: Matba‘at al-liwa’ al-tujariyya, 1946), 2.

138 “Lajnat al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya,” 3.

139 “Lajnat al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya,” 3.

140 “Lajnat al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya,” 3.

141 Badr Abd al-Fattah, “Ala hamish ma‘rad al-kitab al-‘arabi al-filastini,” al-Dhakhira, October 22, 1946, 7.

142 Abd al-Fattah, “Ala hamish,” 7.

143 “Lajnat al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya,” 2, 4.

144 “Ma‘rad al-kitab al-filastini,” al-Dhakhira, October 22, 1946, 18.

Author biography: 

Ibrahim Mahfouz Abdou is a writer and researcher whose texts have appeared on numerous platforms, including  Jadaliyya and OpenDemocracy, and have been performed at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. He is currently a research associate at the ERC PalREAD—Country of Words project, where he focuses on Palestinian literature during the Mandate period, as well as producing a podcast on Palestinian literary history.

Refqa Abu-Remaileh is a professor of modern Arabic literature and film at the department of Semitic and Arabic studies at Freie Universität Berlin and principal investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) project, PalREAD-Country of Words: Reading and Reception of Palestinian Literature from 1948 to the Present (2018–23).