Lebanon Arts and Literature


Contemporary literature is characterized mainly by classical Arabic-Islamic tradition (see Arabic literature), but also by the Eastern Churches and by the Western Missionary Movement from France and the United States. The cultural debate has been marked by the meeting between the Arab, Oriental world of thought and the Western rationalist and materialist tradition. As in the rest of the Arab world, poetry has maintained its culture-dominant position, although many of the country’s most famous writers have been forced into exile, mainly in Egypt and in North and South America, for political and economic reasons. In many of the poets of recent decades, the tension between a tradition-oriented pursuit of national freedom and a progressive struggle for a well-functioning modern society dominates, such as in, for example. Bishara al-Khuri, also known as al-Akhtal as-Saghir.

Lebanon Population Pyramid

  • Countryaah: Population and demographics of Lebanon, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.

In 1957, the poetry magazine Shir (‘Poetry’) was founded with the participation of, among others. Adonis (pseudonym of Ali Ahmad Said), today the world’s leading representative of modernist trends in lyricism. A more traditional poem represents Said Aql, and an Anglo-Saxon orientation is found in Khalil Hawi’s authorship. Even in the area of prose, the most important impulses have come from classical Arabic heritage and from European and North American literature. The leading critic and proseist in the country was long Marun Abbud. Other writers of the format are Jamil Jabr, Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad and his brother Émile Yusuf Suhayl Idris and Halim Barakat.

Drama and theater

The theater has ancient origins in Lebanon and the founder of the modern Arab theater was a Lebanese, Marun Naqqash, who translated Moliere’s “The Greedy” into Arabic in 1848. The French term did not favor the development of drama, which, however, accelerated in the 1950’s, not least inspired by the international music and theater festival games organized in Baalbek since 1955 and later by the national theater congresses (the first 1971). During the 1960’s, several private theaters emerged and also a theater institute in Beirut, close to the university.

After the 1967 war, a clearer political tone came into play, among other things. at Jalal Khuri, partly inspired by Brecht. The domestic political and social conditions created a government-critical theater. Socially oriented playwrights include Isam Mahfuz, Faris Yuakim and Yaqub ash-Shadrawi. The more entertaining theater is represented by playwrights such as Ibrahim Salama and Jirar Afadisiyn. The children’s theater was developed during the 1970’s, mainly by the popular actor Shushu.


Lebanon is characterized by a rich flora of heterogeneous music styles in which Arabic music and age-old Christian music live in parallel with indigenous folk music and contemporary popular music. At the Lebanon Music Conservatory in Beirut (founded in 1929), both traditional Arabic and Western art are taught.

The vocal folk music is metrically and rhythmically structured according to Syrian and Arabic patterns. The melody structure is similar to the Maronite Christian song. Instrumental accompaniment is usually limited to melodic instruments such as mijwiz (double clarinet) and rahbab (1-3 string string). For rhythmic marking, in addition to finger claps and clapping, darabukka (single drum) and daff (tambourine) are also used. Popular music also has features of traditional folk music.

Lebanon Arts and Literature