Meddeb & Radio

Contre-Preches. Chroniques

This past summer the Tunisian poet & essayist Abdelwahab Meddeb gave me a copy of his recent volume Contre-Prêches (Seuil, 2006), which I have been delighting in ever since. It is a collection of 115 short essays based on his weekly radio chronicles on Radio Méditerranée Internationale (Medi 1), broadcasting from Tangier. The essays mainly revolve around contemporary Maghrebian issues but are often linked through Meddeb’s profound scholarship and knowledge to older Arab as well as European literatures & cultural history. These are some of the best informed commentaries & radical proposals toward a modernisation of Maghrebian culture you may ever read. His critique of both fundamentalist islam (which he terms islamo-fascism) and the Western commentaries à la Huntington & Lewis are devastating. In fact, if you have French, you can listen to his broadcast over the net both to the current one, but also to all the ones now gathered in the new book. (you can find them & listen to all of them by going to this url & scrolling down the page until you get to Meddeb). These last weeks he has been presenting a linked series of talk that take off from Mallarmé’s deathbed words which include Mallarmé’s mention of the Assiaoua, a North African sufi brotherhood – indicating a little know interest in and knowledge of the oriental world by the French poet.

If I find the time in the future (probably not before the end of the year), I would like to translate a few of the most salient of these texts & post them here on Nomadics. A full translation of Contre-Prêches, would be a most useful follow-up on Meddeb’s book-length essay The Malady of Islam, which I translated a few years ago with Ann Reid, but which seems unhappily to be out of print at this point.

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