المساعد الشخصي الرقمي

مشاهدة النسخة كاملة : Naguib Mahfouz



نور الاسلام
01-12-2011, 01:03 AM
Naguib Mahfouz
1911–2006

His Life and Work

Naguib Mahfouz was born on December 11, 1911, in the old Gamaliya quarter of Cairo, the youngest of seven children in a family of five boys and two girls. Although he had many siblings, Mahfouz felt like an only child because the next youngest brother was ten years older than him. He mourned his lack of normal sibling bonds, which is reflected in the portrayal of fraternal relationships in much of his work. But his childhood was a happy one—the family was stable and loving, with religion playing a very important role in their life—and there are many signs of Mahfouz’s affection for his early childhood in his work.

He spent his first nine or ten years in Gamaliya, which plays an important role in his earlier, realistic novels such as Midaq Alley and The Cairo Trilogy, and figures symbolically in later books like Children of the Alley and The Harafish. The alley of his childhood is a kind of microcosm of Egyptian society in his works. The family house, also, seems to have inspired Mahfouz and serves as the model for the Abd al-Jawad family house in The Cairo Trilogy. Mahfouz recalls the various rooms and secret places in these novels, including the roof, which becomes a scene for family gatherings and the meetings of lovers.

The 1919 Revolution also had a lasting effect on Mahfouz, leaving him with his first real sense of nationalist feeling and greatly influencing his writings. Interestingly, he later became disillusioned with the Revolution of 1952, though he took issue with its practices, not its principles. He voiced his criticisms clearly in some of his writings of the 1960s (in novels like Miramar), but unlike many other intellectuals of the time was never arrested by Nasser.

Around 1920, his family moved to Abbasiya, a new suburban district, which like Gamaliya is frequently evoked in his novels and short stories. This is where, like Kamal in The Cairo Trilogy, Mahfouz experienced love for the first time.

Mahfouz began writing in primary school, when he was a fan of detective, historical, and adventure novels. In secondary school he moved on to the innovators of Arabic fiction—Taha Hussein, Muhammed Husayn Haykal, Ibrahim al-Mazini—who served him as models for the short story.

Despite his penchant for writing and his early facility with mathematics and the sciences, Mahfouz elected to study philosophy at Fuad I University (now Cairo University) in 1930, graduating in 1934. His interest in philosophy was partly inspired by the writings of Abbas al-Aqqad. Beginning in secondary school and continuing through his university years, he published more than forty articles in various magazines and newspapers, most of which dealt with philosophical and psychological issues and were heavily influenced by Henri Bergson.

From 1934 until his retirement in 1971 at the age of sixty, he worked in a variety of government departments as a civil servant. He held a secretarial post at Cairo University until 1938, when he moved to the Ministry of Religious Endowments to work as a parliamentary secretary to the minister.

In 1945 he requested transfer to the Ghuri Library, near his birthplace Gamaliya, where he managed the Good Loan Project, an interest-free loan program for the poor. This was a very happy time for him; he had plenty of opportunity to observe the life of the area and to read western literature, including his favorites: Shakespeare, Conrad, Melville, Flaubert, Stendhal, Tolstoy, Proust, O’Neill, Shaw, Ibsen, and Strindberg. From the 1950s he worked as secretary to the Minister of National Guidance, director of the Film Censorship Office, director-general of the Film Support Organization, advisor to the General Organization for Film Industry, and finally as advisor to the Minister of Culture.

Mahfouz remained a bachelor until 1954, when he married at the age of 43. He and his wife raised two daughters in their apartment in Agouza, a Nileside district of Cairo. He left Egypt only three times in his life, once to Yemen, once to the former Yugoslavia, and once to England for surgery.

His first novel, Khufu’s Wisdom, was published in 1939, and following that he wrote thirty-four more novels and fifteen collections of short stories, as well as Echoes of an Autobiography in 1994. An attempt on his life in 1994—he was stabbed in the neck outside his home by a religious fanatic—left him able to write only with great difficulty for half an hour a day—and thus he wrote the very short fictions based on his dreams that he called “Dreams of Convalescence,” two selections of which were published in English translation as The Dreams and Dreams of Departure by the AUC Press in 2004 and 2006.

From the late 1940s to the early 1980s he also worked on some twenty-five film screenplays, an activity that seems to have influenced the use of such devices as montage and flashback in his prose writings. Over thirty Egyptian films have been based on Mahfouz’s novels and short stories, but he was never interested in adapting his own books for the screen; the screenplay adaptations were done by others. He was invited to be a writer emeritus at al-Ahram newspaper in 1971, and he continued to produce a weekly column that was published simultaneously in Arabic in al-Ahram and in English in Al-Ahram Weekly until shortly before his death. A collection of these columns was published for his ninetieth birthday celebration in 2001 as Naguib Mahfouz at Sidi Gaber.

Mahfouz has received the Egyptian State Prize twice for his writings, and in 1988 he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. The Swedish Academy of Letters, in its citation for the prize, noted that Mahfouz “through works rich in nuance—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind.”

In 1989 Mahfouz received the Presidential Medal from the American University in Cairo, which also awarded him an honorary doctorate in June 1995. In 1992 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 2002 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Naguib Mahfouz died in Cairo on 30 August 2006 at the age of 94, in the presence of his wife Atiya and his daughters Fatma and Umm Kalthum.