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Studies in the Short Fiction of Mahfouz and Idris

Mona N. Mikhail
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    Studies in the Short Fiction of Mahfouz and Idris
    Book Description:

    In this comparative approach to the works of two major contemporary Egyptian writers, Mona Mikhail identifies existentialism as a major force in their work. Her close examination of the images and metaphors that recur in the short fiction of those two writers shows strong affinities with the works of Ernest Hemingway and Albert Camus, concentrating on a central preoccupation with the theme of death as a constant in he works of all four writers. Mikhail shows how Mafouz and Idris not only successfully incorporate myth and folklore but also draw upon the rich heritage of classical Arabic Literature as a source for their work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6321-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Arabic System of Transliteration
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Chapter 1 A Brief Survey of the Development of the Arabic Short Story
    (pp. 1-7)

    Within the Arabic literary tradition, the modern genre of short stories is a borrowing from the West. However, this should not overlook a long uninterrupted Arabic tradition of various literary genres which have contributed to the foundation of the Arabic short story. The prose narratives of theQur’an, theMaqamatof Al-Hariri, historical romances such as those of Antar, animal fables fromKalila wa Dimnaand of course theArabian Nightsare all worthy ancestors. Running parallel is a whole tradition of Oral Folk Literature which is to this day flourishing in both its classical form as well as, in...

  6. Chapter 2 Naguib Mahfouz: The Man and His Art
    (pp. 8-24)

    When on October 13th, 1988 the world awoke to the extraordinary news that Naguib Mahfouz had been awarded that year’s Nobel Prize for literature, those in the field of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies rejoiced in the fact that a longstanding oversight had been rectified. Although the author himself declared that the news came to him as a total surprise, literary circles in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas had been quietly and repeatedly submitting his candidacy. Naguib Mahfouz, sensitive to the honor bestowed upon him, was quick to recognize the debt he owed his mentors and the generations...

  7. Chapter 3 An Interpretation of the Image and Metaphor of Death A Recurrent Existential Motif in the Stories of Hemingway, Idris, Mahfouz and Camus
    (pp. 25-61)

    Frederick J. Hoffman in his suggestive studyThe Mortal No: Death and the Modern Imaginationexamines in great depth the nature, influence and role of death in major creative works of Western literature. Much of what he says throws light on the treatment of this universal theme in the works of Naguib Mahfouz and Yusuf Idris:

    Death has a special influence upon literary manners. The choice of image and metaphor depends upon current milieu sanctions and determinants, upon the relative ease of difficulty of belief (or, whether it is a simple or difficult matter to accept what is not absolutely...

  8. Chapter 4 Broken Idols or the Demise of Abstractions
    (pp. 62-93)

    This chapter will examine the manifestations of the loss of faith in both the traditional concept of God and in institutionalized religion within the framework of the writings of Idris and Mahfouz. Existentialism in its varied forms has dealt with that crucial metaphysical problem and both Camus and Hemingway dedicate a large portion of their fiction to that universal issue.

    Every existentialist position has therefore struggled with the question of doubting—rejection of the idea of an after life and insistence upon the value of the “here and now.” The validity of religious truths vis à vis the self, as...

  9. Chapter 5 Eros and the Quest for Happiness
    (pp. 94-142)

    As the relation of the Hero to his World changes, so does the form of fiction. The Hero, who once figured as Initiate, ends as Rebel or Victim. The change in his condition implies destruction—and presages rebirth.¹

    The short stories of Naguib Mahfouz and Yusuf Idris, and indeed a great many stories of other Egyptian writers, do not present a systematic love ethic by which they can be characterized or measured. They tend to embody perhaps more of a romantic yearning for absolutes rather than the traditional notion of love. The romantic treatment of love has been, as it...

  10. Chapter 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 143-150)

    In examining the works of Mahfouz and Idris in the light of existential thought, it is evident that there is a clear relationship between ideology and artistic creation. Their works reflect their conscious views about life and death and immortality—all the classical problems faced by writers in all countries and at all times. However their understanding and portrayal of these eternal invariables has at times deviated from established norms, while at others conformed. Intellectual and social development varies in pace from country to country, yet a common world view, in this case existentialism, is clearly subjective in the writing...

  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 153-164)
  12. Index
    (pp. 165-173)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 174-175)