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Mahfouz's first nonfiction book to be published in English, this mosaic of autobiographical vignettes, reflections, allegories, childhood memories, dream visions and Sufi-like spiritual maxims and paradoxes is a deep pool of wisdom that confirms his stature as a writer of universal appeal. These short forms seem to come naturally to the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist, a master of chiseled prose, pithy observations and devastating asides. As the title suggests, this compilation echoes his recurring themes: the common humanity of rich and poor, the redemptive power of love, the transitoriness of happiness, the yearning of salvation, and how our inevitable destiny, death, unconsciously molds our strivings and search for meaning. In her introductory essay, Gordimer defends Mahfouz against feminists who attack his depiction of women characters, arguing that he accurately portrays the oppression of women in his society. By contrast, the women in these parables and sketches, though often impersonally observed, are symbols of spiritual release, radiant joy, beauty and freedom. There are scattered, veiled political echoes, too, as in the first-person portrait of an elementary school pupil who secretly longs for anarchy and revolution.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Do you deny that you had your share of the warmth of the world and its fragrance?" one interloper asks the elderly, often weary narrator in one of the series of allegorical reflections that frame the life of the Egyptian Nobel laureate (e.g., Children of the Alley, LJ 12/95). Mahfouz transcends the traditional autobiography here, offering instead distillations of an impossibly full and eventful career. The brief anecdotes recall the narrator's youth, a time "pure and unsullied"; temptation and longing to return to the embrace of family; dreams; fears of lost esteem and fallen glory; and sensuous epiphanies. A particular light, aroma, or tune will recall for the narrator, now in old age and hounded by death, snatches of a time he despairs of repossessing. Mahfouz surrenders the last quarter of this slim volume to the pithy parables of the sheikhs?as if to signal the end ("What I endured from desire made my life a yearning concealed in nostalgia"). Mahfouz's language carries the gravity of religious truth and the lyrical clarity of poetry. An enigmatic work that will please his growing numbers of American readers.?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.