The playwright Saadallah Wannous (Wannous Facebook page)
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Last month the American University of Beirut celebrated the donation of renowned Syrian playwright and public intellectual Saadallah Wannous' private library, a move that has both garnered praise and sparked controversy.While many have spoken favorably about it, some have attacked the family for giving Wannous' books to AUB.Before even considering AUB, they had contacted various Syrian cultural institutions, from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts to the Assad Library, about the possibility of finding a home for the library in Syria.The books arrived at AUB, with the Syrian authorities having signed all necessary paperwork, in November 2015 .The library does not contain rare manuscripts or precious limited editions but paperbacks – what Syrian intellectuals were able to afford in Arab book markets from the 1960s to the 1990s.Following Benjamin's essay, we can conclude that it is not that Wannous' books come alive at AUB; it is AUB that lives in them.
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