The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies Negotiating Space and Time Knowing the Past in the Present in Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love

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The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies Negotiating Space and Time Knowing the Past in the Present in Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love
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   The International Journal of  Critical Cultural Studies  THEHUMANITIES.COM  __________________________________________________________________________  Negotiating Space and Time MAJED HAMED ALADAYLAH Knowing the Past in the Present in Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love   THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CRITICAL CULTURAL STUDIES www.thehumanities.com ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print) ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online) doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP (Journal) First published by Common Ground Research Networks in 201 7  University of Illinois Research Park 2001 South First Street, Suite 202 Champaign, IL 61820 USA Ph: +1-217-328-0405 www.cgnetworks.org  The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal. COPYRIGHT © 201 7  (individual papers), the author(s)   © 201 7  (selection and editorial matter), Common Ground Research Networks   All rights reserved. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes   of study, research, criticism, or review, as permitted under the   applicable copyright legislation, no part of this work may be   reproduced by any process without written permission from the    publisher. For permissions and other inquiries, please contact support@cgnetworks.org. Common Ground Research Networks is a member of Crossref. EDITOR Asunción López-Varela, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain MANAGING EDITOR Caitlyn D’Aunno, Common Ground Research Networks, USA ADVISORY BOARD Patrick Baert, Cambridge University, UK David Christian, San Diego State University, USA Joan Copjec, Brown University, USA Mick Dodson, Australian National University, Australia Oliver Feltham, American University of Paris, France Hafedh Halila, Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis, Tunisia Souad Halila, University of Tunis, Tunisia Ted Honderich, University College, UK Asunción López-Varela, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain Eleni Karantzola, University of the Aegean, Greece Krishan Kumar, University of Virginia, USA Marion Ledwig, University of Nevada, USA Harry R. Lewis, Harvard University, USA Juliet Mitchell, Cambridge University, UK Tom Nairn, Durham University, UK  Nikos Papastergiadis, The University of Melbourne, Australia Fiona Peterson, RMIT University, Australia Scott Schaffer, University of Western Ontario, Canada Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Stanford University, USA Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, USA Cheryl A. Wells, University of Wyoming, USA Zhang Zhiqiang, Nanjing University, People’s Republic of China REVIEWERS Articles published in The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies  are peer reviewed by scholars who are active participants of the  New Directions in the Humanities Research Network or a thematically related Research Network. Reviewers are acknowledged in the corresponding volume of the journal. For a full list of past and current Reviewers, please visit www.thehumanities.com/journals/editors. ARTICLE SUBMISSION The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies  publishes quarterly (March, June, September, December). To find out more about the submission process, please visit www.thehumanities.com/journals/call-for-papers. ABSTRACTING AND INDEXING For a full list of databases in which this journal is indexed,  please visit www.thehumanities.com/journals/collection. RESEARCH NETWORK MEMBERSHIP Authors in The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies are members of the New Directions in the Humanities Research Network or a thematically related Research Network. Members receive access to journal content. To find out more, please visit www.thehumanities.com/about/become-a-member. SUBSCRIPTIONS The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies  is available in electronic and print formats. Subscribe to gain access to content from the current year and the entire backlist. Contact us at support@cgnetworks.org. ORDERING Single articles and issues are available from the  journal bookstore at www . ijhccs.cgpublisher.com. HYBRID OPEN ACCESS The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies is Hybrid Open Access, meaning authors can choose to make their articles open access. This allows their work to reach an even wider audience, broadening the dissemination of their research. To find out more, please visit www.thehumanities.com/journals/hybrid-open-access. DISCLAIMER The authors, editors, and publisher will not accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may have been made in this publication. The publisher makes no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein.  The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies Volume 15, Issue 1, 2017, www.thehumanities.com © Common Ground Research Networks, Majed Hamed Aladaylah All Rights Reserved, Permissions: support@cgnetworks.org ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print), ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online) Negotiating Space and Time: Knowing the Past in the Present in Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love   Majed Hamed Aladaylah, Mu’tah University, Jordan  Abstract: The representation of the fictional narrative discourse becomes the subject of critical interpretation in contemporary fiction. This issue procreates vast changes in the technique of narration and the experimentation of writing  fiction. The present research questions ontological and transformational notions as narrated by the representation of  fictional discourse. These notions are interrogated by Elif Shafak, a Turkish novelist; she attempts to expose the matrix of the relationship between the past and present in “The Forty Rules of Love” (2010). The novel investigates two different centuries, the thirteenth century and the twenty-first centuries. Shafak combines the past and the present to rejuvenate the  past and supplies a new narrative of the past. This amalgamation and juxtaposition deconstructs the conventional,  substituting the conventional narrative through the act of juxtaposition, that the past and the present are welded in one  spatial construction. Shafak addresses new spaces and unlocks the secret space of spiritual transformation and freedom of the self, through spiritual journeys undertaken by narrative discourse. The novel offers insights into many rules of love, which becomes an icon of transformation. Shafak’s response to this mutability is given by her protagonists who becomes new born, liberated, and relieved by “Sufism” and comprehending new spaces, lives, and realities reflected in the reshaping of the narrative representation.  Keywords: Juxtaposition, Past, Present, Space, Spiritual, Transformation Historiographic Metafiction: Connecting the Past and the Present he new experimental works have adopted new parameters and stereotypes and have created and generated spectrums and gamuts to cope with the requirements of contemporary fiction. One of these parameters is the dialectic relationship between the  past and the present. This issue catalyzes critical milieus from conventional literary works to current representation of narrative discourse. Several empirical novelists attempt to capsulate diverse experiences and trends from their own historical spaces and incorporate them in current fiction. In this light, the amalgamation of historical themes, discourses, events, documents, and texts in literary contemporary discourse has connected the fictive and the real in one melting pot. Moreover, this amalgamation treats them as linguistic constructs, and they appear as equally intertextual, spreading out the texts of the past in order to understand the present. In this context, Linda Hutcheon (1989, 75) states that the “past really did exist, but we only know it today through its textual traces, its often complex and indirect representations in the present: documents, archives, but also photographs, paintings, architectures, films and literature.” What appears here is that history transforms its historical knowledge and experiences through its narrativized and textualized representation. Thus, the two discourses are juxtaposed in one fictionalized narrative through juxtaposition and amalgamation. In other words, the past  percolates into the present and unalterably forms it, just as the present acclimatizes the interpretation of the past. Consequently, this integration, emanation, and intersection of temporalities do not annihilate the historical truth and knowledge, but is an acknowledgment of its construction as a human representation of being and thinking. Hutcheon (1989) sees the notions of subjectivity, uncertainty, self-reflexivity, provisionality, self-conscious narrative, and multiplicity of truths inherent in any account of past events. These are produced by multiple narrating voices and are able to make a redemptive perspective of the  past. Hutcheon (1989, 117) holds that: “Postmodern novels raise a number of specific issues, regarding the interaction of historiography and fictional issues surrounding the nature of identity T  THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CRITICAL CULTURAL STUDIES and subjectivity; the question of reference and representation; the intertextual nature of the past; and the ideological implications of writing about history.” Hutcheon has also defined historiographic metafiction as one kind of postmodern novel which rejects projecting present beliefs and standards onto the past and asserts the specificity and particularity of the individual past event. It also suggests a distinction between ‘events’ and ‘facts’ that is one shared by many historians. Since the documents become signs of events, which the historians transmutes into facts, as in historiographic metafiction, the lesson here is that the past once existed,  but that our historical knowledge of it is semiotically transmitted. Finally, historiographic metafiction often points to the fact by using the paratextual convention of historiography to both inscribe and undermine the authority and objectivity of historical sources and explanations. (Hutcheon 1989, 122–23) The Canadian critic provides a new kind of novel that stylistically imbues notions about cognizance of the past and the authority that narrative has on that knowledge. It demonstrates concerns about the questions of culture, identity, transformation, existentialism, self-consciousness, and epistemology. Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love : A Confrontation of the Past and the Present A number of avant-garde novelists who are not exclusively or even principally known as writers of historical fiction have been similarly indulging in the language, the texts, and the material culture of the past to bring about some remarkable works of fiction. Elif Shafak is both a conventional novelist and a creative “metafictionst.” She destroys the linear sequence of the past and changes the path in which she writes. Simultaneously, she accepts and denies the historical novel, while at the same time, she interrogates postmodern stereotypes to reshape and redefine the novel genre. Her novel The Forty Rules of Love  is a womb in which past, present, and space are enfolded together. It is a potpourri novel, a graphic depiction of two periods—1252 and 2008—the confrontation of the traditional and the postmodern. Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love opens with a prologue where the narrator relates the events in the present tense from a limited third-person point of view. The narrator also provides a detailed description of the protagonist Ella Rubinstein and reveals the loneliness and isolation of Ella’s life. Ella experiences the loneliness of her life after twenty years of marriage. Shafak has  played a game of opening up a space, nothingness, encountered between a single self—a young woman in need of love, affection, passion, and understanding—and another teacher of “Sufism.” In practice, Shafak has led her protagonist into multiple spaces, where she is disrupted by a kind of otherness. The Forty Rules of Love  is set in a determinate time and place: Northampton, May 17, 2008. The narrator refers to the twenty-first century of which the narration inevitably pulls the reader into the fictional world of the story to see the action and its narration simultaneously. However, Shafak wants to write a historical novel in the twenty-first century. To call it a historical novel is an understatement; Shafak is not content to just present her story in a vague historical period that bears resemblance to reality. Shafak re-creates the historical past and structures it according to the needs of the present, to create a part in its own image, an image that mirrors and defines the present’s knowledge and interest; as the needs of the present alter, so do its images of the past. The narrator says, “In many ways the twenty-first century is not that different from the thirteenth century. Both will be recorded in history as times of unprecedented religious clashes, cultural misunderstanding, and a general sense of insecurity and fear of the Other. At times like these, the need for love is the greater than ever”(Shafak 2010, 15). 32  ALADAYLAH: NEGOTIATING SPACE AND TIME The Forty Rules of Love : A Protagonist’s Struggle in Space and Time Throughout the first section of the novel, which is preceded by an epilogue, it appears that, although the novel is a twenty-first-century novel, it avouches the self-reflexivity of Shafak through the interaction of “histography” and fiction and the involvement of present in the past. Both the types are intersected systemically so that the texts of the past have been immersed fictionally throughout the texts of the present. Shafak leads Ella to a space, a space which may be gained through narrative. Ella is not a happy wife. She is frustrated and depressed. She realizes that she didn’t marry the man she loved and is unable to control her sadness. Her brain is tired of all the noise swirling inside. Ella feels entirely out of place in the world; she feels born to suffer,  born to be isolated. Ella wants to be released from the plot as well as the narrative-bound sense of lack of compassion and loneliness; she wants to find her own space, reality, identity, and transformation: “One day she would abandon it all: her kitchen, her dog, her children, her neighbors, her husband” (Shafak 2010, 64). Thus, Shafak has selected a novel inside a novel to ease her protagonist of her tiresome and spiritual emptiness. Francese (1997, 26) claims that “identity once constituted, permits the localization of exterior spatial coordinates. Through identity, reality is constructed and space is given shape.” Moreover, Shafak’s narrative historical space opens to Ella as an extra narrative to carve out a space for her own transformation by rejecting this void and achieving inner-spiritual presence of her ego, nafs . In this context, Ella is mentally and physically isolated from the exterior world and the interior time. Her only space is generated within the mind and the emotional space through transformation and evolution. Shafak hopes that she would trace the historical time through space, transcend from inside a transformation, no longer closed within, derived from a linear narrative or causal history of past. Corollary of this, the critical parallel between past and  present—in other words, the third-person objectivity and first-person subjectivity of the narrative—is the first and foremost result of a mixture of temporalities. The narrator is constantly  juxtaposing thirteenth-century and twenty-first-century terms and allusions. David Mickelsen (1987, 77) claims that “[d]iscarding a causal, linear organization at least moves toward an organic conception of life.” Shafak has defamiliarized the sequence of plot and created “paratactic” plot to substitute the causal connection by juxtaposition. Eric Rabkin (1981, 97) suggests that “devices of framing or story within a story, parallel chapters, authorial intrusion…invite the label ‘spatial.’” Through space, the fictional protagonist wants to step out of the textual universe. She moves from emptiness and fragmentation at her heart into interior implosion. The Forty Rules of Love ’s Shattering Inside Story: Sweet Blasphemy Ella received a letter from A. Z. Zahara who lived in Holland to review the manuscript of a novel entitled Sweet Blasphemy . At that time, Zahara spent his life travelling around the world and wrote about the great philosopher, mystic, and poet Rumi and his beloved Shams of Tabriz. Ella took a deep breath, turned the page, and started to read. She was caught by the magic of the novel and its fragrant knowledge that lit her mental space. In this, Shafak attempts to let the reader have the sense of feeling of reading two novels at the same time. She achieved this by inducing specific tricks of temporal frameworks that are consistently convincing to the reader as well as to the character. Ella wants to escape through a journey of inner space, to lead an intellectual as well as emotional journey of love, faith, and transference. Sweet Blasphemy  has become a spatial metaphor of love; love is the very essence and  purpose of life. The narrator begins Sweet Blasphemy  with a foreword, and it is narrated in the  past. “In 1244, Rumi met Shams” (Shafak 2010, 19), the powerful spiritual relationship between Rumi and Shams became the target of envy, ambition, and attack. “They were misunderstood, envied, vilified…. Three years after they met, they were tragically separated”(Shafak 2010, 20). 33
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