Universitatea “Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu, Centrul de Cercetări Filologice şi Interculturale.
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5 / 2015
Naguib Mahfouz’s Fiction Between Allegory and Realism
Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian writer who was awarded, in 1988, the Nobel Prize for Literature (being the first Arab author to win this prestigious recognition), includes in the great majority of his novels different aspects that have to be interpreted taking into consideration the implications of allegory, on the one hand, and of realism, on the other. Therefore, we can easily notice that his novels, from Rhadopis of Nubia (1943) to Arabian Nights and Days (1981) or Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth (1985), even if placed in distant epochs, are always expressing the most important preoccupations of contemporary Oriental societies, especially those of Egyptian world, the author’s native land. His masterpiece, The Children of Gebelawi (1959), creates a unique kind of “family portrait”, but expresses, in fact, the fundamental truth of the Oriental culture and of our nowadays world: Gebelawi and his children are, in fact, Egyptian representations of contemporary Cain, Abel, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Banned throughout the Arab world for the alleged blasphemy (the allegorical portrayal of God and the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this novel represents Mahfouz attempt to write against all possible political or religious patterns and to underline, in his specific way, the great truth of literature, the only truth this Egyptian writer always tried to express.
Keywords: allegory, realism, postcolonial culture, Oriental literature, 20th century novel, narrative discourse.
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- Naghib Mahfuz, Rhadopis din Nubia / Rhadopis of Nubia. Traducere de Irina Vainovski-Mihai, Bucureşti, Editura Humanitas Fiction, 2011.
- Naghib Mahfuz, O mie şi una de nopţi şi zile / Arabian Nights and Days. Traducere de Mihai Pătru, Bucureşti, Editura Humanitas Fiction, 2008.
- Naghib Mahfuz, Băieţii de pe strada noastră / Children of Gebelawi. Traducere, prefaţă şi note de Nicolae Dobrişan, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2009.
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