By Rasheed El-Enany
First released in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra info for Naguib Mahfouz: The Pursuit of Meaning (Arabic Thought and Culture)
The novel offers a very realistic story but contains at the same time a broad universal view. This is what I have been trying to do in my latest novels [NB interview was given in 1973]. , you could say that their influence has not gone beyond the surface of my skin. Le roman nouveau is rubbish. It is as if you were saying, ‘life is boring therefore I will write for you an equally boring novel’. The fact is that any expression of the boredom of life must be entertaining…. Lawrence. After these I was no longer able to read Dickens.
Mahfouz argues that: Our culture is very close to European culture. This is because they both are based on common foundations. For its part, European culture is based on both the moral principles of the Bible and the modern science inherited from the Greeks. The same is also true of 21 NAGUIB MAHFOUZ—THE PURSUIT OF MEANING Arabic culture, the difference between the Bible and the Qur’an being here of no consequence as the latter maintains that it embraces both the Bible and the Gospels. The moral values are thus the same.
Apart from his fiction and interviews there is another major source for the novelist’s views on the Nasser period and indeed on his political, economic and social views generally. By this I mean the current affairs column he has been writing weekly in Al-Ahram ever since the mid-1970s. A large selection of these short articles has appeared recently in three volumes under the titles: Of Religion and Democracy, Of Culture and Education and Of youth and Freedom. 103 The volumes make tedious reading on the whole but are priceless for the direct insights they afford us into those ideas of the writer which are usually more carefully disguised in his fiction.