The Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade into a novel written in his own imaginative, spellbinding. First published in Arabic in , these 17 interlinked, eloquent tales, loosely based on the classic Arabian Nights, reveal a more playful side of Pulitzer. May 20, An austerely modern reworking of The Thousand and One Nights — the most magical work yet set into English by Egyptian Nobel laureate.

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What does it have in common with Western literature you have read? What about it appears to be particularly “Middle Eastern”? What parallels can you find in your own culture or experience to the life in Egypt he describes? Do these merely reflect cultural differences or do they also address larger, more universal themes?

Does this appear to be true in the novel s you have read? My work was shaped by being so Egyptian. Does it alter any preconceptions you may have brought to the work for better or for worse?

Arabian Nights and Days, by Naguib Mahfouz, – Chicago Tribune

Yet he chooses to imbue all of his characters with a language that is considered to be classical literary Arabic as opposed to the colloquial dialects that would be more natural to their stations in life.

Why do you think he does this? What effect does he achieve through the employment anv this universal tongue? While on the one hand they were both pleased and proud that one of their own had achieved such recognition, on the other they wanted the world cautioned that his political views were not necessarily representative of the average Egyptian.

What examples do you find in his writing that lead you to believe that there is a more “Western” sensibility at work here?

From tohis output changed, with the pieces becoming existential and concerned with souls in a state of spiritual crisis. Since then, his approach has been eclectic.


Arabian Nights and Days

Consulting the publication chronology provided at the back of this guide, locate the period in which the book you have read came out, and discuss what elements there are in the writing style that mahfohz it as belonging to that kahfouz genre. Can you picture the events depicted mahfoiz or the sensations of the characters occurring in our own society at any given point in our history? How do religious beliefs protect and hinder us? How do they affect our ability to act? But what does Mahfouz— with the advantage of his Egyptian heritage— think of their lives?

Do you imagine that he shares our opinion that they are repressed, or do you think that he finds their existence satisfying and as it should be? Identifying them, discuss the negative and positive functions that these superstitions serve for Cairene society. Magfouz the techniques employed by the author to inject humor into the tales, and your opinion as to whether or not he is successful.

But, now and again— particularly during more dramatic moments— he will refer to them as “the man” or “the woman. Inthere was a revolution.

Arabian Nights and Days Reader’s Guide

Literary Fiction Fairy Tales print. The questions offer new perspectives and context for your conversations. For your convenience, a complete listing is included in this guide. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1 How would you identify the novel you are reading in terms of style and genre?

About this Author Born in to nighhs low-ranking civil servant, Mahfouz grew up in Gamaliyya, ane tradition-rich section of historical Cairo. At age 19, he enrolled in the Department of Philosophy at Cairo University then King Fuad Universityfrom which he graduated in Following his graduation, Mahfouz found employment as a raabian in the civil service, where he worked in various governmental departments until his retirement in As its title suggests, the focus in this novel shifts to contemporary life in modern Egypt.


Between andMahfouz published seven more novels, all of which were written in the style of social realism. The six novels and two collections of dayx stories he published between and deal with severe existential and spiritual crises in a hauntingly lyrical style.

Modernist narrative techniques such as the interior monologue, fragmented plots, disjointed time schemes, and free association predominate in the fiction of this phase. SinceMahfouz has written 16 more novels and 10 more collections of short stories daye span a wide variety of styles and themes.

In Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is given to an author to honor a body of work. He was the first Arab writer ever to receive the Nobel. Generally unknown to Western readers until then, he was soon receiving lavish praise for his extensive body of work.

Vanity Fair called him “the greatest writer in one of the most widely understood languages in the world, a storyteller of the first order in any idiom.

His fictional characters come largely from the lower-middle-class stratum of Cairene society and many of them bear clear autobiographical marks.

In fact, many of the novels themselves bear the names of the quarters of historical Cairo in which Mahfouz grew up. The quest, however, is seldom successful. In his novels, the universal is packaged in the concrete details of local color and specific national setting. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Stay in Touch Sign up.

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