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This review is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

NEW PERSPECTIVES Ghazi A. Algosaibi, Arabian Essays (Kegan Paul International) £9.50

Dr Algosaibi dedicates his book to 'those who disagree'. I cannot count myself as one of those, partly because I do not know enough about the Arab point of view from which it is written, either to agree or to disagree; and partly because of the nature of the essays many of which are, as the author says, 'provocative and polemical'. One should not allow oneself to be provoked too often, especially by one who, on his own confession, is 'unable to resist an invitation to talk about anything'. Most of these pieces are talks which have been given to Saudi audiences.

The interest of the book, from our insular point of view, is that it brings us news of the kind we ought to get more of through our own media, which are overwhelmingly concerned with the crude excitements which seem to be about all that penetrates the skull of the average journalist. Dr Algosaibi is 'a poet, minor academic and major bureaucrat'-the Saudi Minister of Industry and Electricity, no less, and it is of interest to know what such a man could be like. Not knowing any Arabic-though Dr Algosaibi has, I should report, published in Arabic and English-I have no idea what importance to attach to his publisher's claim that he is 'a well known Arabic poet'-a phrase which could mean as little as is generally the case with comparable claims made in the western world. Being a minister, however, is something definite, and ...

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