Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts  مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

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This paper draws its importance from two angles. First, it deals with a marginal Arabic text that was born in the seventeenth century. Second, its use of cultural criticism in clarifying the text's components as cultural criticism is a partner of literary criticism. The traveler's text is not written by a traveler, a geographer, a writer or an ambassador, but it is written by an Arab prince, Fakhr al-Din al-Ma'in II (1634), who made his journey to Italy between 1613 and 1618. It was a journey which he had to make to save blood and to escape the surveillance of the Ottoman Empire. During his adminstration, he founded a development project in Sidon, Beirut, Bekaa, and Tripoli. It’s a project based on urbanization, fortification of castles, development of agriculture, expansion of trade horizons with the Franks, collecting wealth and provisions, and making use of Europeans experiences. However, this did not satisfy some of the statesmen of the Ottoman Empire. He was threatened, so he had to travel to Italy for some time, and this migration prompted him to write down his most important observations that have modern, civil, and reforming dimensions. Despite his Syrian, colloquial language indicating the dominance of ignorance, his journey had some significant cultural references that cannot be represented except in cultural criticism, the least was that the Prince got to know the secrets of European civilization superiority more than a century and a half before Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. Hence, this study uses cultural criticism to describe travel literature as a cultural event that raised some questions about identity and the “other,” overt and covert cultural patterns that are embodied in statements of rejection, slander, and coercion, on the one hand, and statements of acceptance, praise, and celebration, on the other hand. Prince Fakhruddin's journey represents an early civilized encounter between the East and the West and such encounter barely existed in the pre-Arab “Nahda” literature. This journey represents the behaviors, practices, and cultural concepts dominating his own age. This leads us to do a cognitive approach in the light of the culture in question without involving into historical, political, and social contexts of the journey.