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حكايات أدبية من الذاكرة الشعبية
الأعمال الكاملة
أحسن أيامك سماع كلامك
2001
يا جبل ما يهزك ريح
2000
من كل وادي عصا
1998
اقعد اعوج واحكي جالس
1996
الناس أجناس
1995
قال المثل
1995
القيل والقال
1994
ثمانون
1993
جود من الموجود
1991
الحبل عالجرار
1988
حيص بيص
1983
الناس بالناس
1980
شيح بريح
1978
حكي قرايا وحكي سرايا
1976
في الزوايا خبايا
1974
لئلا تضيع
1971




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فيديو

Biography
Salam Al Rassi (1911-2003) was a Lebanese writer of folk literature. He was also known as Abu Ali, and commonly referred to by critics as the Shaikh Al-Adab Al-Sha'bi (the Don of Folk Literature).... more

Salam Al Rassi – a biography

Salam Al Rassi (1911-2003) was a Lebanese writer of folk literature. He was also known as Abu Ali, and commonly referred to by critics as the Shaikh Al-Adab Al-Sha'bi (the Don of Folk Literature). He started writing at the age of sixty after an active life in farming, civil service and political activism. His 16 books are structured as short stories and commentaries, which depict traditional life in villages and small towns and the way ordinary people expressed themselves through proverbs, tales, poems and superstitions. He was particularly interested in recording history 'from below' through elaborating comments of ordinary people on political events and the relationship with rulers or the governments of the day (a relationship which was mostly turbulent and mutually antagonistic).

In addition to reproducing the nation's oral history in a unique literary style, Al Rassi was an original writer in his own right, with his unique narrative, strong sense of drama and a refined form of classical Arabic combined with spoken expressions. Al Rassi was a captivating raconteur with his distinctive village accent. He became a television celebrity in the 1980's and 1990's appearing in his own programme, Al-Adab Al-Sh'bi and in various interviews across Lebanese channels.


Childhood and family background: Salam Al Rassi was born on the 25th of December 1911 in the small village of Ibl Al Saqi in Southern Lebanon. He was brother to thirteen children.

His father Yuwakim Al Rassi was both a man of letters and a church pastor who graduated from the Protestant Theological Seminary, Abeih in 1878. He was the founder of Al-Funoon School in Sidon, which was later known as the Evangelical School or simply the American School. After working as its headmaster from 1880-1896, he returned to Ibl Al Saqi and died in 1916. He left a rich and diverse library of books that included writers of Arab enlightenment. Al Rassi grew up in this environment of learning, progress, secularism and aspirations for modernity.

Al Rassi's mother was Rahil Hannoush who repeatedly tried to convince him to become a pastor, which never happened as he decided to pursue totally different walks of life.
Al Rassi's older brother Sami was a poet who emigrated to Sao Paolo, Brazil and founded the Al Jaliah magazine in the 1920's. His other brother Monah was a classically trained artist and literary writer who became the Editor-in-chief of the English language newspaper, the Eastern Times in Beirut.
Al Rassi's wife Emily Ghattas was also a writer and author of three books.
Al Rassi attended local schools in his village and in the neighboring town of Marjayoun and then moved to Beirut with his mother after his father's death and the aftermath of the Syrian revolution. He attended the American University of Beirut for a brief period and returned to the village to embark on an active life as a farmer, political activist, poet and raconteur.

As a young man, Al Rassi extensively wrote classical Arabic poetry and folk Zajal some of which was published in national and regional newspapers. His compatriot poets valued his poetry although he lost interest in writing more poetry when he grew older.
Upbringing and influences: His protestant liberal background provided by his family and the general environment of the first quarter of the twentieth century in Lebanon had a deep impression on him; he was a village boy with deep ties to his 'folks' culture, a strong sense of identity as a Lebanese Southerner and an educated city boy with continuing interactions with upcoming literary and political ideas. Those ideas advocated liberal thought, secularism, social equality and resistance to French colonial rule.


As a political activists: Al Rassi met key intellectuals, journalists and political figures of Lebanon. " I met Adel Ossayran, Maarouf Saad, Shafiq Lutfi, Mousa Al Zein Sharara, Ali Bazzi, and Salim Bou Jamra, thence Riad Al Solh and the poet Abd Al Hussein Abdallah ". He also had encounters with Antoun Saadeh and early communist writers and intellectuals. He subsequently joined the first generation of socialists in Lebanon and was one of the founders of the Socialist Party in 1937 with Emil Kashaamy, Fuad Jirdaq, Fadel saeed Akl and others. But it was a short-lived episode after which he joined Farajallah El Helou in the Lebanese Communist Party. During this period he assumed leadership positions in the party. He was active in anti-French protests and was arrested many times. He resigned from the Communist Party in 1948 and returned to his village.

He wrote articles in the monthly publication Al Tariq and corresponded and interacted with prominent writers such as Maroun Abboud, Amin Rihani, Mikhael Naimy, Emil Habibi, Emily Nasrallah, and a large circle of poets and painters



As a government worker: Following the devastating earthquake in 1956, Minister Emil Busatny recruited Al Rassi as an employee at the newly formed Reconstruction Department (Maslahat Al Ta'meer). Al Rassi's job was to deal with the villagers of South Lebanon on behalf of the ministry, because Bustany thought that he 'spoke the same language'. According to Al Rassi, this post started his long journey to collect people's stories, which became valuable raw material for his future literary career. He continued his work as a government worker moving from one department to the other until he retired in 1975.


As a writer of Folk Literature: In 1971, Al Rassi was 60 years old. As he was approaching his retirement, his family encouraged him to write down his 'stories' in order to preserve them 'lest they are lost'. After completing the manuscript, Naufal publishers (who were also relatives) offered to publish the book for distribution to friends. Al Rassi's first book was thus published, entitled Lialla Tadhi (Lest They are Lost).

Al Rassi was clearly ready for embarking on his new career as a writer. He followed his own recipe for anyone who aspired to become a folk writer: "Sail across the waves of society, gauge the depths of the masses, have rows with taxi drivers and food stall sellers, confront police men, disobey state laws, stand in front of judges in courts, try the taste of prisons, become a vagabond, emigrate, love, hate, revolt, curse, commit the 7th sin and its 'redemption', squeeze all people's worries in your memory and lastly, you have faith in people".

Following his first book's success, he continued and wrote 15 other books until he was ninety.

In the 1980's, at the height of the Lebanese civil war, his television programme 'Al-Adab Al-Sha'bi' was broadcasted many times with remarkable success. He became a television celebrity and appeared on many other channels. His books and programmes reached effectively all Lebanese sects and regions and were hailed by critics as offering one language at the time of severe factional divisions. He was awarded medals and honours by the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, the President of the Republic of Lebanon and the Government of Brazil.

Salam Al Rassi died on the 19th of April 2003 and was buried in Beirut


His books:

  • Lialla Tadhi', 1971
  • Fi Al-Zawaya Khabaya, 1974
  • Haki Qaraya wa Haki Saraya, 1976
  • Sheeh Breeh, 1978
  • Al-Nass Bil-Nass, 1980
  • Heess Beess, 1983
  • Al-Habl Al-Jarrar, 1988
  • Joud Min Al-Mawjoud, 1991
  • Thamanoo, 1993
  • Al-Qeel wa Al-Qal, 1994
  • Qal Al-Mathal, 1995
  • Al-Nass Ajnass, 1995
  • 'uq'ud A'waj wa Ihki Jales, 1996
  • Min Kul Wadi 'assa, 1998
  • Ya Jabal Ma Yhizzak Reeh, 2000
  • Ahsan Ayyamak Istima' Kalamak, 2001

All books were published by Naufal, Beirut, Lebanon


Abbas Baydhoun wrote in Al Safir, 30 April 2003: Salam Al Rassi realised that he was at the end of a history, the end of a culture that was void of memory; so he chose to found a memory for the future. Al Rassi was not really interested in customs, religious holidays or folklore, but rather in the magical ability to coin an eloquent or effective phrase for an occasion or a situation. It was the choice of a poet more than that of a historian or a researcher.

He made jewels out of someone else's parlance. However, Al Rassi was in effect the creator of such jewels in the way he made the choices. Al Rassi was the author.

He sometimes projected some of his findings on present times, purely for education and advice. He reproduced the past and the present because his contemporaries missed out this notion. They insisted that 'progress' was a prerequisite for forgetfulness.

Although Al Rassi was a pioneer among the socialist thinkers of those days, he was not shy of his real self. The wooden 'party' discourse of those days did not distract him from appreciating the essence of oral expression, which was transmitted through generations. He did not shun away from his real world because he believed that we will have a future when we find our missing history.

If his passing was an end of an era, we hope that it would also be a signal for a new one.