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Extra info for Naguib Mahfouz: The Pursuit of Meaning (Arabic Thought and Culture)

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The last novel he serialized in AlAhram was Qushtumur in 1988. He has also contributed a short weekly column on topical, mostly non-literary issues for the last fifteen years or so. e. from Khan al-Khalili up to Children of Gebelawi. Novels written after that seem to have drawn mainly on the environment of the second half of his career. Here we meet many intellectuals, professionals and high government officials in contrast with the lower and lower-middle classes of his earlier work. However, this division is by no means rigid, for models of the earlier half have continued to cross this imaginary barrier all the time, and increasingly so since the mid-1970s when, with works like Fountain and Tomb and Harafish, it became apparent that Mahfouz was experiencing nostalgia for his old world.

56 It must have been much later that he indulged in reading sufi (mystical) poetry, the effects of which can be spotted in his fiction from the 1960s onwards. 57 After graduation in 1934, Mahfouz’s intensive readings in philosophy, we are informed, continued as the author started working towards an MA degree. 59 His intellectual reaction to his philosophy studies has been recorded in a number of articles that he published in a variety of magazines and newspapers throughout his undergraduate years and for several years thereafter.

There, ‘the heaviest duties’ are forgotten, while ‘the best in life’ is enjoyed to the full. This is not permissible in Mahfouz’s moral code, which is why MiriNurac and Rhodopis end tragically, whereas Ahmus and Aminridis go their sepharate ways, unhappy but ennobled and made wiser by the pain of their sacrifice. From this point on this moral code is always observed in the novelist’s world: slaves of passion and self-interest will always fall, and those who uphold duty will always survive and prosper.

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