Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mahfouz: a universal voice in the Arab world

By Carlin Romano - Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Egyptian Nobel Prize winner, who died Wednesday, created narrative art "that applies to all mankind."

Naguib Mahfouz became the first Arab writer to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Mahfouz, a Cairene so devoted to his tumultuous city that at 78 he'd spent exactly six days outside Egypt - three in Yugoslavia and three in Yemen - lived and wrote as a cosmopolitan who never let ideology keep him from depicting Egypt's realities and hypocrisies.

Teased about his lack of travel, he jabbed back: "All that we do as writers and philosophers is the study of human nature. And it is one, in any place."

His 1,500-page Cairo Trilogy, a multigenerational depiction of the city's middle-class from post-World War I to the early '50s, resembles the 19th-century European novel in form. He once said that it treats "the struggle between great and burdensome traditions on the one hand, and freedom in its various political and intellectual forms on the other."

But Mahfouz's works also offer orgies on Nile houseboats, corrupt officials, cynical politics, nascent feminism, covert Westernization, and a cinematic style reflective of a man who wrote about 30 film scripts and at one time directed Egypt's State Cinema Organization.

For much of his career, Mahfouz exemplified Egyptian openness to European culture, to the work of thinkers such as Darwin, Marx and Freud, while also espousing a Sufi-influenced belief in democracy.

1 comment:

Irving said...

May Allah bless his dear soul, and place him in the first ranks of His beloveds.

Amin.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mahfouz: a universal voice in the Arab world
By Carlin Romano - Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Egyptian Nobel Prize winner, who died Wednesday, created narrative art "that applies to all mankind."

Naguib Mahfouz became the first Arab writer to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Mahfouz, a Cairene so devoted to his tumultuous city that at 78 he'd spent exactly six days outside Egypt - three in Yugoslavia and three in Yemen - lived and wrote as a cosmopolitan who never let ideology keep him from depicting Egypt's realities and hypocrisies.

Teased about his lack of travel, he jabbed back: "All that we do as writers and philosophers is the study of human nature. And it is one, in any place."

His 1,500-page Cairo Trilogy, a multigenerational depiction of the city's middle-class from post-World War I to the early '50s, resembles the 19th-century European novel in form. He once said that it treats "the struggle between great and burdensome traditions on the one hand, and freedom in its various political and intellectual forms on the other."

But Mahfouz's works also offer orgies on Nile houseboats, corrupt officials, cynical politics, nascent feminism, covert Westernization, and a cinematic style reflective of a man who wrote about 30 film scripts and at one time directed Egypt's State Cinema Organization.

For much of his career, Mahfouz exemplified Egyptian openness to European culture, to the work of thinkers such as Darwin, Marx and Freud, while also espousing a Sufi-influenced belief in democracy.

1 comment:

Irving said...

May Allah bless his dear soul, and place him in the first ranks of His beloveds.

Amin.