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You can always tell an Englishman, it seems, if not by the way he speaks then, by his humor. And both the British accent and British humour were the featured performers at the first International Seminar Forum Wednesday night in Auditorium B of Alston Burr Hall.
The main part of the program featured two very cheerful but only occasionally informative gentlemen from England, Mr. Ian MacArthur and Mr. Christopher Martin.
Mr. MacArthur is a politician, and judging by last nights performance, a rather good one. A Conservative Member of Parliament, although technically a Scottish Unionist (it seems that neither the English nor the Scots want to recognize the fact that they have been under a common government since 1707). MacArthur is a tall man, somewhat bald, but very distinguished looking. He wears a typically British double-breasted suit and has a politican's ability to be both straightforward and devious at the same time and almost get away with it.
MacArthur and Martin discussed the question of the current revival of the Liberal party, once the distinguished alternate to Conservative governments, but reduced, in the past forty years, to a mere six seats in the House of Commons.
Their discussion was in the form of a debate, with Mr. MacArthur holding up the tory standard and speaking first. He discussed, with intermixed humon and seriousness the plight of the Liberals in recent years and stated that the current Liberal revival was only an expression of dissatisfaction that is customary between British general elections, but that when the next poll-taking rolled around, the people would realize that they would be faced with the prospect of choosing a government and that most people who had left the Conservative sympathies would return. He ended his discussion with the statement that one can only wait and see "what will happen next."
Mr. Martin, never missing an opportunity for humor, began his talk with the statement, "I am happening next!"
The remark was typical of what was to follow, for Mr. Martin's humor was not only subtler than Mr. MacArthurs, but it was also more sarcastic and more plentiful. Indeed, Mr. Martin rarely got around to saying anything profound, although this may have been because lack of time forced him to cut short. He was, nevertheless, very clever with language.
The speeches were not very profound, but, politicians are not supposed to say profound things even if they can. Both demonstrated, as did Hamlet, that in politics "the play's the thing."
Mohamed Moustafa Badawi, lecturer on the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alexandria, opened the program with a short but informative discussion of the major problems facing contemporary Arabic literature.
He began with a brief introduction concerning the history of Arabic literature, showing how more traditional subject matter like Arabic poetry has affected some contemporary authors. He said that traditional Arabic poetry placed an emphasis on language in its verse and on society in its content, and it was not unitl the last thirty or forty years that Arabic literature began to cater to the individual and to experiment with new forms, such as the drama and the novel
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