ياروسلاف ستيتكيفيتش (١٩٢٩- ٢٠٢١)

Fromer NELC member Jaroslav Stetkevych passed away at the age of 1992. Born in Burkaniv, Ukraine on 25 April, 1929 he began his secondary school studies at the Statsgymnasium in Göttingen and completed secondary school at the Ukrainian Gymnasium at Berchtesgaden, Germany in 1947 and the German Gymnasium in Munich, 1949. He began his university studies at the University of Madrid where he received the Licenciatura in Semitic Philology with Premio Extraordinario honors in 1959. During that time (1957-58) he studied in the PhD program at Cairo University. In 1959 he received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant to pursue PhD studies in the department of Semitic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. There he studied Arabic Literature under Sir Hamilton Gibb and received his PhD in 1962. He taught Modern and Classical Arabic literature and Classical Arabic syntax in the NELC department at the University of Chicago from 1962-96. He is currently a Research Associate at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych. Stetkevych’s research interests and publications span both Classical and Modern Arabic Language and Literature, with his deepest involvement in Arabic poetry. His work on Arabic linguistics and philology grows from his 1970 book The Modern Arabic Literary Language to include studies ranging from contemporary Arabic language on stage to the hermeneutics of Classical Qur’ānic exegetical terminology and the poetics and semiotics of animal nomenclature in the classical qaṣīdah. In the field of Arabic poetry, his major contribution is to the study of the lyricism and aesthetics of the Classical Arabic poetic tradition is the 1993 book, The Zephyrs of Najd: the Poetics of Nostalgia in the Classical Arabic Nasīb. In his 1996 book, Muḥammad and the Golden Bough, he integrates the study of Arabian and Islamic myth into the broader fields of comparative mythology and religion. His articles over the years have explored various facets of Classical and Modern Arabic poetry and poetics. His 2015 book, The Hunt in Arabic Poetry, gathers and refines twenty years of work on Arabic hunt poetry to demonstrate the continuities and discontinuities of the hunt theme from the pre-Islamic qaṣīdah through Modernist free-verse poetry. His current project is on the ʿAyniyyah of Abū Dhuʾayb al-Hudhalī: Elegy and the Achievement of Allegory in Classical Arabic Poetry.

We add here the beautiful words written by associate professor of Arabic literature Huda Fakhreddine (Penn), depicting her late mentor:

 

Jaroslav Stetkevych set out on his final journey and left us standing upon the ruins he has deciphered for us into poetry. And who better than Jaroslav to master absence as he has mastered presence. Many of us, students of Arabic poetry, have grown in the warm generous shade he bestowed upon us. He taught us loyalty to poetry alone and trust in the genius of the Arabic language. He taught us the language of nostalgia and illuminated for us the wild stretches of the qasida. He leaves us with the mission of reading Arabic poetry without compromise, with no imperative other than the aesthetic.

Jaroslav is loyal critic, whose readings and insights are at once intimate and universal. He is the ultimate humanist who believed that “cultures meet best on their own terms.” His legacy will give us the strength to resist the cornering of Arabic in indices, handbooks, and special areas for the foreign. We have learned from him to read Arabic poetry as forever urgent and to celebrate the Arabic tradition’s “private exaltations and self-absorbed refinements” without apology. His rich oeuvre teaches us criticism as an act of unwavering love, as loyalty to a tradition and its unique forms of thought, as resistance to extraliterary imperatives, and as a resolute reclaiming of the past for the present. His works will remain cornerstones of our field.

Jaroslav Stetkevych will always be one of the few whom Arabic literature has gifted a pleasure reserved for those who are most loyal to it.

 

حان البين، فانطلق ياروسلاف ستيتكيفيتش في رحلته الأخيرة وتركنا واقفين، بعد أن علّمنا الوقوف والسؤال ولغة الحنين.

أنشأ مع رفيقته في الشعر والحياة سوزان ستيتكيفيتش مدرسة نقدية وفية لعبقرية اللغة العربية وشعرها. ومدرسة ستيتكيفيتش عائلة عندما ندخلها نجد لنا مكاناً نعود إليه دوماً. كلما تسنّى لهما، يجمع سوزان وياروسلاف أبناءهما حول طاولة، يطمئنان علينا من حوادث الدهر ويزوداننا بذخر من المثابرة والولاء في سعينا نحو القصيدة. وستظل قصيدتهما هذه تؤلف بيننا مهما افترق نسب او اختلف ماء الوصال.

صحب ياروسلاف في السنوات الأخيرة أبا ذؤيب وها هو يتركنا في هول غيابه مع عينية الهذلي لتكون زاداً وعزاء في هذا الفراق الاخير.

أمِنَ المَنونِ وَريبِها تَتَوَجَّعُ       وَالدَهرُ لَيسَ بِمُعتِبٍ مِن يَجزَعُ

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لا بُدَّ مِن تَلَفٍ مُقيمٍ فَاِنتَظِر    أَبِأَرضِ قَومِكَ أَم بِأُخرى المَصرَعُ

 

ياروسلاف، سنفتقدك ونظل نحتفي بك ونتذكرك وأنت الذي علمتنا معنى الفقد والهوى، وأرشدتنا إلى وطن في الشعر العربي لا رحيل عنه.