He stated that "You would never have thought that an artist would emerge from that family. From the window he often saw British soldiers firing at the demonstrators, men and women. By , having spent a year working on an M. Mahfouz then worked as a journalist at er-Risala, and contributed to el-Hilal and Al-Ahram. The major Egyptian influence on Mahfouz's thoughts of science and socialism in the s was Salama Moussa, the Fabian intellectual.
Civil service Mahfouz left academia and pursued a career in the Ministry of Religious affairs. However, he was soon moved to a role in the Ministry of Culture as the official responsible for the film industry, due to his apparent atheism. Mahfouz left his post as the Director of Censorship and was appointed Director of the Foundation for the Support of the Cinema. He was a contributing editor for the leading newspaper Al-Ahram and in he became a consultant to the Ministry of Culture, retiring in Marriage Mahfouz remained a bachelor until the age of The reason for his late marriage was that he laboured under his conviction that with its numerous restrictions and limitations, marriage would hamper his literary future.
In , he married an Egyptian woman, with whom he had two daughters. He published 34 novels, over short stories, dozens of movie scripts and five plays over a year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian films. He was a board member of the publisher Dar el-Ma'aref. Many of his novels were serialized in Al-Ahram , and his writings also appeared in his weekly column, "Point of View".
Before the Nobel Prize only a few of his novels had appeared in the West.
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Clash with fundamentalists Mahfouz did not shrink from controversy outside of his work. As a consequence of his outspoken support for Sadat's Camp David peace treaty with Israel in , his books were banned in many Arab countries until after he won the Nobel Prize. Like many Egyptian writers and intellectuals, Mahfouz was on an Islamic fundamentalist "death list". Mahfouz believed in freedom of expression and although he did not personally agree with Rushdie's work, he did not believe that there should be a fatwa condemning him to death for it.
He also condemned Khomeini for issuing the fatwa , for he did not believe that the Ayatollah was representing Islam. In , after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie and his publishers to be killed, Mahfouz called Khomeini a terrorist. Shortly after Mahfouz joined 80 other intellectuals in declaring that "no blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer. Death threats against Mahfouz followed, including one from the "blind sheikh," Egyptian theologian Omar Abdul-Rahman. Like Rushdie, Mahfouz was given police protection, but in Islamic extremists almost succeeded in assassinating the year-old novelist by stabbing him in the neck outside his Cairo home.
He survived, permanently affected by damage to nerves in his right hand. After the incident Mahfouz was unable to write for more than a few minutes a day and consequently produced fewer and fewer works. Subsequently, he lived under constant bodyguard protection. Finally, in the beginning of , the novel was published in Egypt with a preface written by Ahmad Kamal Aboul-Magd. Mahfouz and Habib would spend most of their time in Habib's office; Mahfouz used Habib's library as a reference for most of his books. Mahfouz stayed with Habib until his death.
Death and funeral Prior to his death, Mahfouz was the oldest living Nobel Literature laureate and the third oldest of all time, trailing only Bertrand Russell and Halldor Laxness.
At the time of his death, he was the only Arabic-language writer to have won the Nobel Prize. In July , Mahfouz sustained an injury to his head as a result of a fall. He remained ill until his death on August 30, in a Cairo hospital. In his old age Mahfouz became nearly blind, and though he continued to write, he had difficulties in holding a pen or a pencil. He also had to abandon his daily habit of meeting his friends at coffeehouses.
Prior to his death, he suffered from a bleeding ulcer, kidney problems, and cardiac failure. Mahfouz was accorded a state funeral with full military honors on August 31, Mahfouz dreamed that all of the social classes of Egypt, including the very poor, would join his funeral procession.
However, attendance was tightly restricted by the Egyptian government amid protest by mourners. Abath Al-Aqdar Mockery of the Fates , Rhadopis , and Kifah Tibah The Struggle of Thebes , were historical novels, written as part of a larger unfulfilled project of 30 novels. Inspired by Sir Walter Scott — Mahfouz planned to cover the whole history of Egypt in a series of books.
However, following the third volume, Mahfouz shifted his interest to the present, the psychological impact of the social change on ordinary people. Mahfouz's central work in the s was the Cairo Trilogy , an immense monumental work of 1, pages, which the author completed before the July Revolution. Mahfouz set the story in the parts of Cairo where he grew up. With its rich variety of characters and psychological understanding, the work connected Mahfouz to such authors as Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, and Galsworthy.
Mahfouz ceased to write for some years after finishing the trilogy. It was later made into a film featuring a cast of top actors during the time of president Anwar al-Sadat. It was banned by Sadat to avoid provocation of Egyptians who still loved former president Nasser. Copies were hard to find prior to the late s. Mahfouz's prose is characterised by the blunt expression of his ideas. His written works covered a broad range of topics, including socialism, homosexuality, and God.
Writing about some of the subjects was prohibited in Egypt. The Children of Gebelawi , also known as "Children of our Alley" one of Mahfouz's best known works, has been banned in Egypt for alleged blasphemy over its allegorical portrayal of God and the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, until the ban was released in It portrayed the patriarch Gebelaawi and his children, average Egyptians living the lives of Cain and Abel, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed.
Gebelawi has built a mansion in an oasis in the middle of a barren desert; his estate becomes the scene of a family feud which continues for generations. Why are we starving? What have we done? In the s, Mahfouz further developed its theme that humanity is moving further away from God in his existentialist novels. In The Thief and the Dogs he depicted the fate of a Marxist thief, who has been released from prison and plans revenge.
In the s and s Mahfouz began to construct his novels more freely and to use interior monologues.
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In Miramar he developed a form of multiple first-person narration. Four narrators, among them a Socialist and a Nasserite opportunist, represent different political views.
In the center of the story is an attractive servant girl. Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth is about conflict between old and new religious truths, a theme with which Mika Waltari dealt in Finland in his historical novel Sinuhe , trans. The Egyptian. Mahfouz described the development of his country in the 20th-century.
He combined intellectual and cultural influences from East and West - his own exposure to the literarature of non-Egyptian culture began in his youth with the enthusiastic consumption of Western detective stories, Russian classics, and such modernist writers as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka and James Joyce.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Dec 17, Kaj Peters rated it liked it Shelves: populair-wetenschappelijk , midden-oosten. Helpful and surprisingly readable insight into the more philosophical aspects of his novels. I hate how Gordon keeps referring to his own meetings with the author as if this is supporting his claims. Ariel Daniliszyn rated it really liked it Oct 12, Radwa Rehan rated it liked it Jul 20, Trevor Kidd rated it liked it Aug 11, Nadine marked it as to-read Jan 04, Sedat marked it as to-read Oct 16, Ahmed Oraby marked it as to-read Nov 03, Ramesh marked it as to-read Jan 16, Radu marked it as to-read Feb 18, Scott Cox marked it as to-read Jan 17, Manana Gvishiani marked it as to-read Mar 20, BookDB marked it as to-read Sep 14, Diah marked it as to-read Feb 13, Sarah added it Apr 30, Waqas Maqbool added it May 01, Sultana Nazia marked it as to-read Jun 20, Silloo added it Jun 06,