The Flâneur in the Modern Metropolis of London: A Reading of Ghada Al-Samman’s The Body Is a Traveling Suitcase

Nisreen M. Sawwa, Shadi S. Neimneh, Marwan M. Obeidat


This article studies the representation of London in the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century as depicted in Ghada Al-Samman’s The Body Is a Traveling Suitcase (1979), employing Baudelaire’s notion of the “Flâneur” and Benjamin’s description of the flâneur as a detective of the metropolis. Thus, Al-Samman is a flâneur in her travelogue, getting a close look at London. Being a flâneur, Al-Samman disapproves of the routine lifestyle which the people of London lead. The article, therefore, also applies Simmel’s concept of the “blasé outlook” which people in the metropolis evince and his notion of the “protective organ.” Such concepts account for the Londoners’ coldness and apathy, which, for Al-Samman, explain the prevalence of moral decay and criminality as well as the existence of rebellious groups. Accordingly, it is suggested that this negative portrayal of London is ascribed to the writer’s Arab roots and her feelings of displacement in the West.


Ghada Al-Samman, The Body Is a Traveling Suitcase, flâneur, metropolis, London

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