Libya Arts and Literature

Libya Arts and Literature


The literature of Libya, after having known a diffusion especially with poetry during the Turkish and Italian domination with ‛A. ar-Raḥīm al-Maghbūb, A. al-Faqīh Ḥasan, M. ibn Zikrī, M. ‛A. as-Sunnī and S. al-Bārūnī, also saw prose affirm itself after the Second World War. In 1943 the foundation of the cultural association ‛O. al-Mukhtār and in 1955 the founding of the Libyan university favored the formation of a new literary generation that reflected the political situation of the country. Among the poets of this period: ‛A. Sidqī ‛Abd al-Qādir, M. al-Mahdī and‛ AM ar-Ruqay‛ī. The narrative, also spread in the wake of Western translations and works, took on realistic features to describe the various problems of industrialization and colonialism with K. Ḥ. al-Maqhūr, ‛AM al-Miṣratī, K. at-Takbālī, and Y. ash-Sharīf. Among other writers, K. at-Tillīsī was also a critic and an Italianist. After the 1969 revolution, literary themes underwent a strong ideologization with a uniformization of contents. Between the 20th and 21st centuries. an important position occupy ῾A. al-Quwayrī (al-Zayt waāl-tamar “Oil and dates”, 1980), which highlights the rapid dissolution of traditional values, B. al-Hāšimī, committed writer, who gives voice to the world of the weakest, and AI al-Faqīh (Urbuṭū aḥzimat al -maqā’id «Fasten your seat belts», 1968), which goes beyond the limits of realist literature and describes man, his desolation and his profound solitude. A place apart occupies I. al-Kawnī (also known as I. al-Koni: Nazif al-ḥaǧar, 1990, trad. It. Blood Stone, 1998), which evokes, on the pre-Islamic poets model, the desert, the star undisputed of his stories and a symbol of freedom.


The current borders of the Libya include two historical regions, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, to which reference must be made as regards the Roman age. Previously, much of the territory corresponding to these regions had been colonized first by the Phoenicians (foundation of Sabrata and Leptis Magna), with the subsequent contribution of the Carthaginians, and then by the Greeks (foundation of Cyrene). In addition to the important centers of Sabrata, Leptis Magna and Cirene, of which substantial traces remain, the sites of Apollonia, Barce, Oea (od. Tripoli), Tocra and Tolemaide should also be mentioned., of Greek origin, which offer rich archaeological evidence up to the period of the Arab conquest.


Of the brief Byzantine presence, which preceded the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, only a few traces remain, while significant medieval Islamic ruins remain south of Benghazi. The political changes (from the interference of the Ottoman Empire starting from 1835, up to the proclamation of the Republic in the 1960s), culminated in the “cultural revolution” (1973) which entailed the will to destroy the anti-Islamic and anti-Arab elements that they had left a trace of it. The manifestations of vernacular architecture articulated in the various regions (along the NW coast or in the oases of the South) have disappeared with the building modernization. Buildings of stone, mortar, adobe, wood, stucco survive along the coast in the historic region of Cyrenaica. Around the Fezzan buildings with crenellated walls with corner towers are reminiscent of the architecture of Algeria. In Ghadames the old city, divided into two levels, ensured the separation of men from women: the street level reserved for men and the rooftops for women. ● Following the bombings, both Italian and French, the post-war reconstruction has modernized the buildings by equipping them with running water and refrigeration systems. Modern buildings have characterized the appearance of Tripoli and Benghazi (university in Benghazi, designed by J. Cubitt, 1966-67 etc.). Many churches have been turned into mosques. Western modern art never established itself in Libya, where the artistic life was characterized by single individualities rather than by movements. Among the artists: M. al-Arnaouti, tied to tradition; A. Ubeid, A. Gana, T. al-Maghribi, trained in the Italian school; A. Omer Hermes, based on a modern calligraphic language. For Libya culture and traditions, please check

Libya Arts

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