The jurisconsult Abou Bakr Zniber published in number 120 of march 22, 1939 of the newspaper "Almaghrib" an article entitled "The editions and the contemporary class of the learned men" in which he presented a detailed analysis of the editions process in our country, commenting on the contents of an article which referred to a citation of Mohammed Kard Ali, then Syrian minister for education,who praised the cultural rebirth in North Africa as highly remarkable. The author of the article thinks, for his part, that the process of the editions in Morocco did not know any progress for over 10 years if we except the publication of 4 books, including "The semitic spirit" of the scientist Al Hajoui.

Compared with the Arab production in this field, this statement could not be regarded as a progress or a sign of revival. Abou Bakr Zniber stressed that the books, the newspapers and other publications in Arab language which circulate in the intellectual milieus in Morocco come all from the Middle East. No trace of any Moroccan book or periodical is to be found among all these publications. This anomaly is to be imputed to the state of regression of the Karawiyin's level and the lack of interest of its teachers for the editions.

The newspaper published in its number 122 a shingling response to an article which I could not find among the numbers I was examining, in which the author of the accused article is regarded as belonging to the category of "graduates" who could have access to the final class of the Karawiyin university although they were far from fully mastering the Arab language. In any case, il may be of a great interest for them to improve the style of their writing before claiming to deal with the editions process in Morocco. This answer is a criticism adressed in fact to all the young graduates of "the Institute of the Moroccan high studies" to whom "the Directorate of Education" granted an imaginary equivalence by an administrative decision to allow them to reach the higher degree of the studies in the Karawiyin, in a desparate attempt of assimilating this university in the public educational system.

We note, fifty years later, that the editions process knew certainly a great progress, but the freedom of publishing and the lack of criticism on what is being printed had largely contributed to promote the print of books and newspapers of which the least which one can say is that they do not reflect the spirit of authenticity which characterizes the Moroccan writing and do not present any interest for the readers. Later, undoubtedly, when the good grain is separated from the ryegrass, we will be able to pretend to a better thoughtful literary production involving an appropriate improvement of the quality of the editions.


The newspaper "Almaghrib" awarded a priviledged place to the heading "Little but convincing" which treated under the satirical pen of Ahmed Ziyad, questions of a political, literary and social nature. This heading is worth being subject to a suitable study of criticism as conceived and practised by the intellectuals of that time. In the following developments, I will not restrain myself to the sole literary or political aspect among the subjects covered by the newspaper, but I will tackle the subject of criticism in its overall meaning.

I will begin with this speech made in one of the mosques of Tangier about the plague of the pest which started to ravage the countryside of the city of the straits in 1939. The reporter of this news pointed out that the Imam who made this speech commited unforgievable errors of linguistic. Only some sourats of the Coran which he had learnt by heart were pronounced correctly.Such an ignorance of the linguistic rules is enjoying a broad currency in a city like Tangier which counted among its sons the most famous Arab traveller of the Middle Ages, Ibn Batouta, who used also to commit many errors in the same manner as the speaker of the city of Basra which was considered as the cradle of grammar and the grammairians.

In number 593 of the year 1941, we read a criticism which was full of civilities in its introductory part, but which turned quickly to the most subtle mocking remarks. This article was a critical response made by Idris Kettani to a literary article written by Abdallah Ibrahim and published under the title "Hidden subtleties of our literature" where he discoursed upon a writing on the recreational virtues and their faculty to serve as a substitute for the grisery caused by alcohol, without mentioning the name of the author who, according to him, is an unknown Moroccan one, and he invited the intellectuals to make the necessary researches to rediscover the origins of the above mentioned writing and its paternity. However, specifies Idris Kettani, the author of the text is known; his name is Hatem Al Amili. He concluded his critical answer in these sarcastic terms:

"Perhaps we do not realize sufficiently that we become an object of ridicule when we try to bring the proof that our literature has enough grandeur to be compared with the letters of the other Arab countries, but this comparison is the fruit of a pure stretch of the imagination that our pretentious spirit which is always inclined towards self satisfaction does not cease feeding. One must get rid of one's feelings and seek in the deepest funds of our libraries this literature lost in the mists of time. Only then, one can speak about it to the best of one's knowledge.

In number 713 of the year 1941, the pamphleteer Ziyad informs us, with his habitual sarcastic style, about the very uncommon character of two poems composed by two students, one attending the modern school, Abdeslam Alaoui, the other the University of the Karawiyin, Abdelghani Skirej, In the spirit of the journalist, the poem composed by the student in modern letters should apriori translate a better predisposition for poetic art, while that composed by the student of the traditional school of teaching should be much less inclined to the grace and aesthetics of the poetry. But, in this case, the roles were reversed. Abdeslam Alaoui composed a poem in the tradition of the old period which was suitable for elegies, welcoming in the name of his institution His Majesty Mohammed V. As for Abdeghani Skirej, he composed a poem with an accent of modernity and was given a standing ovation by the whole audience of the students who regarded him him a real prodigy. I do not think that I am betraying the reality by admitting that the two students master the techniques required by the rules of the Arab poetry, However, it seems to me that the poetic vocation of the second is by far superior to that of the first one. It could have been more natural that the student of the traditional teaching composes an elegy in the manner of the former poets, and that the student of modern teaching would be carried towards subtleties of poetical creation, but the results were literally reversed. And what is not reversed nowadays? It is leastways astonishing that the student in algebra and philosophy is precisely the one who composes his poem instinctively in the traditional manner. Up to you then to learn how to better refine your judgement, and may God assist you in your spirit of enterprise."

The newspaper "Almaghrib" was also interested by another type of criticism, namely the denunciation of the literary larcenies of which no period was free and which the elder generations had described by the image of "the impact of somebody who digs at the place of someone else who dug before him." In this spirit, we raise some examples quoted by the newspaper to show that this kind of criticism did not exist at all in our press. The author of the heading "little but convincing" was incontestably the one who took the initiative in this field. It was he who orchestrated the movement of the judicial enquiries and the intellectual condemnations of the plagiarisms published by the press.

Thus, in number 833 of the year 1941, the pamphleteer Ziyad has severely criticized a pseudo intellectual of Marrakesh who attributed to himself the text of a poem that a Tunisian author composed and published in the review "Albadr"(The crescent) in 1921. He reproached our plagiarist for appropriating the spirit and the letter of this poem in order to make of it a personal creation of his own, and publish it as such in the newspaper "Al Taqadoum" (The Progress).The merit of this discovery is to be rewarded to a student of the Karawiyin who informed the newspaper and took the initiative to invite it to compare between two identical poems allotted to two authors of different periods, and composed on the same rhyme and the same rhythmic movement, one entitled "The night" the other "I adore you, O night."

The newspaper clarifies in its number 856 another literary larceny made by a certain Omar Al Baroudi who published in the review "Al Zaman" (The Time), that its initial author had entitled "the crying truth" and that the plagiarist put under the title "On the tomb of the beloved one, the pain of the memory" without even trying to change the words and the expressions used in the initial poem. The person who discovered this plagiarism, and who is originating in Fès, specified that this robber of a new type who choose as initial the letter H purely and simply copied the poem published in number 143 of the 4th year of the newspaper "Almakshoof" which appeared in Egypt during the decade of the thirties.

"Almaghrib" noted in its number 862 another plagiarism made by a certain Mohammed Darbani who published in number 123 of the newspaper "Alwidad" the text of a study of a very high level entitled "The Poetry and the imaginery (visions)". And here is what our pamphleteer wrote about this guilty plagiarist:

"All what Darbani wrote is literally recopied from the book "literary criticism" published by Lasle Karamé, professor at the University of London, and translated into Arabic by Mohammed Iwad, professor at the Egyptian University."

Another example of plagiarism is provided to us in number 935 of the year 1942 by the publication of a tale signed "the intellectual dreamer" in number 135 and 136 of the newspaper "Alwidad." The author of such a larceny could not escape from criticism, since it was specified to the readers that the tale whose paternity is unduly appropriated by the "dreamer" is the work of the Irish novelist Oscar Wilde, that we owe its translation into Arabic to the famous Palestinian writer Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and that this Arabic version has been published in number 51 of the review "Al Amaly" in 1939.

One of the most satirical critiques was also addressed to a poet that the newspaper preferred to conceal the name, reproaching him for using in his poems the rarest words and expressions which produce sounds as unmatched as unpleasant to the ears. This critique was presented with the following comment:

"This man brings us hundert years back at the time of Chanfari and Ta'about Charra. What can one thus think of this poet, and which judgement, positive or negative, can one relate to the total absence of harmony in the lexicon of his poetic vocabulary?"

One can deduce from what precedes that our country knew during the thirties and forties a flourishing intellectual life characterized by a vast movement of follow up and literary criticism. Those who are interested to know the process of criticism in Morocco can refer to the national press which echoed at the time all the literary arguments exchanged in the fields of ideas and way of writing or denouncing plagiarism and larcenies. Unfortunately, this liveliness lost in intensity and was relayed by a greater indulgence dictated by the worry to do what pleases the person put in the limelight of criticism, and to take care not to be too malevolent towards this person. This is contrary to the principle of the independance of judgment which must characterize any démarche claiming the application of objective criteria to the effort of analysis required by literary criticism and this, independantly of the persons and the situations targeted by this criticism.