According to thefreegeography, Tunisian literature did not seem, in the Middle Ages, to distinguish itself from Arabic. The city of Kairouan was, before Tunis, an important cultural center and gave famous writers such as al-Qaysi (966-1045), author of works on the Koran, al-Husrī (d. 1061), compiler of three anthologies, and the religious poet aš-Sādili (d. 1258). The most prominent medieval writer was Ibn Khaldūn (1332-1406). The French colonization brought about a national awareness, therefore the abandonment of traditional rhetorical stylistic forms and a greater attention to social reality. From a romantic poem represented by Muṣṭafā Ärha (1873-1946), Muḥammed al Chādli Khaznah-Där (d.1954), Sa’īd Abū Bakr al-Munï and the great poet Abū l-Qasim aš-Shabbī (1909-1934) who renewed poetic language with painful passion, he moved on to a poetry more oriented towards socio-political problems, with Muḥammad al-‘Arībī al-Kabbādi (1880-1961). Tendency passed then to prose, which saw the rise, in the Thirties, of a literature of socialist inspiration and new genres: the realistic short story, written in everyday language, humorous with Muḥammad ʽAlī al-Duāgī (1909-1949), moral with Abd ar-Razzāq Karabāka (1901-1945), sentimental with Muḥammad al-‘Arībī; the psychological novel with Maḥmūd al-Mas’adi (1911-2004); the socio-political essay with Tahar Haddad (1901-1935) and the historian with Ḥasan Ḥusnī Abd al-Wahhāb, author of an important History of civilization in the Tunisian lands; while the poets tried to establish new relationships with the world, joining the imagination to concrete reality, not only to describe it but also to transform it. As for the theater, starting with translations and adaptations of foreign works, by Muḥammad Būrqība, Gallāti and Al-Tha’ālbi, it gave rise, after the war, to original works, reflecting the national history or the daily life of the Village. The best authors were ad-Duāgī Muḥammad al-Habib, Ḥasan ar-Zamirlï, ‘Uthmān al-Ka’ak, Muḥammad al-Aqrabī, Djalāl ad-Dīn al Naqqāch and Maḥmūd al-Mas’adi, who gave the Tunisian theater the his first tragedy, The Dam. The tendency to denounce and to social demand has intensified in the literature after independence, characterized by a harsh realism and represented above all by Moḥammad Driss, who rejects the official theater, subsidized by the regime, to implement, through new means of expression, a theater closer to reality. In the narrative field, where the same trend appears clear, there are Muṣṭafā Fersi, al-Bachir Kharyyf, Moḥammad Rachād al-Hamzāwi (b. 1934) and the more modern Moḥammad Salah Jabri and Bechir Khralef.
Western influence is sensitive in Salah Garmadi (Shoe shine, 1961), but, in general, this generation seeks its own cultural and expressive identity, revealing multiple trends, but united in linguistic research. Among the major exponents are E. Madani (b.1938), Abdel Kader ben Cheikh, who in the beautiful novel And my part of the horizon it has surpassed claiming realism, and socio-political essayists Ḥasan Husnī Abd al-Wahhab, ‘Uthmān al-Ka’ak and al-Balhawan. In the Sixties, poetry has a double tendency: on the one hand the lovers of the classical tradition (supported by the regime) who, however, renew by introducing erotic or social (Jaâfar Majed) or neo-romantic themes, on the other poets who upset language and form, giving their works greater simplicity or a bitter humor expressed in fantastic images (Salah Garmadi). Alongside the Tunisian-language production, the French-language production stands out, with internationally renowned writers, such as the novelist Albert Memmi and Moḥammad Nomâne, and good poets (Moḥammad Aslan, Muṣṭafā Kourda, Aḥmed Chergui, Salas Farhat). Both literatures, although socially engaged,socially and culturally high elite. Around 1963 the “formalist” current was born, which stands out from the previous ones for the unscrupulous use of language and strong political commitment. This current, which among its main European inspirers has J. Joyce, M. Butor and R. Barthes, gathers novelists such as Samīr Ayadi (1947-2008), famous for The noise of silence (1970), and Maḥmūd Tunsi (b.1944), poets such as Tahar Hammanni (b.1947) and Ḥabib Zannad (b.1946), and the critic Muḥammad Salaḥ Benamor (b.1949). In the 1970s and 1980s, literature remained largely Arabic. The authors bitterly contest an increasingly oppressive regime. The poets disengage themselves from traditional forms and forms and express an openness to the struggles of the Arab world. Prose writers conceive of literature as a weapon of struggle, feeding on disappointments and revolt. Faced with this protest literature, a conformist and apologetic production was born, which exalts the cult of racial and cultural authenticity and is confined to an often hermetic symbolism. The theater is developed on three levels, that of the regime, the committed one, which aims to raise awareness of the reality of the country, and that of exiles who elaborate, lyrically, the experiences of emigrants. Among the numerous authors we remember F. Mellah, T. Louchichi, the playwright T. Jebali (b. 1944). Important sociological essays by M. Aziza, A. Tlili, H. Béji (b. 1948) and the researches on biculturalism by F. Chadli. Many Tunisian intellectuals have made a contribution to their country by working abroad, especially in France: an example is A. Meddeb (b. 1946), who teaches at the university in Paris; in his work, which lies between novel, poetry and comedy, he comments on his double origins, Islamic and Western, Arab and French, elaborating a cross-border culture that attempts to reconcile Islam with modernity. T. Bekri (b. 1951), a poet who writes in both Arabic and French, also lives in Paris.