Thursday, August 31, 2006

The New York Times explains the literary significance of Naguib Mahfouz: "Mr. Mahfouz supported President Anwar el-Sadat and the Camp David accords that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and he was denounced by many of his countrymen."
And then the New York Times writer said: "Arabic has a rich tradition in poetry, but the novel was not a strong art form until Mr. Mahfouz made it accessible." First, there is also a rich tradition of Arabic prose (maqamat, essays, history writing, etc), but the New York Times did not know about it because Ibn Al-Muqaffa` and Al-Jaziz and many others did not support Sadat's trip to Jerusalem. And so many other writers wrote novels before Mahfouz: Karam Milhim Karam, Muhammad Husayn Haykal (credited with writing the first Arab novel, Zaynab), Amin Rihani, Jubran Khalil Jubran, Micha'il Nu`aymah, `Abbas Al-`Aqqad, Taha Husayn, Tawfiq Hakim, and others.