Midaq Alley study guide contains a biography of Naguib Mahfouz, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Born December 11th, 1911
Died August 30th, 2006 (at 94 years old)
Naguib Mahfouz was born and lived in Cairo, Egypt
His family were lower-middle class Muslims and resided in 2 popular districts of town (the second of which was a major backdrop in his writings)
He was raised by a civil-servant father and a historically interested mother (hence the old fashioned and historical backgrounds included in his writings)
His family were devout Muslims and Naguib had a strict Islamic upbringing
In an interview, which he talked about the stern religious environment at home during his childhood, he states that "You would never have thought that an artist would emerge from that family."
By Naguib Mahfouz
Paige, Sarah, Skye
The Happy Man
The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 had a very strong impact on Naguib, even though he was only 7 years old
He states how it "shook the security of his childhood" and helped inspire his interest in philosophy
He later went on to join the civil service and write while continuing his duties
Naguib published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts and 5 plays over his 70 year career
In his works, he often wrote about subjects prohibited from literature in Egypt, such as socialism and God
In his works he often describes the development of his country in the 20th century and combines it with intellectual and cultural influences from the East and West
Almost all his works occur in heavily populated urban quarters of Cairo, where his characters (mostly ordinary people), try to cope with the modernization of society and temptations of Western values
He also enjoyed to develop the theme that humanity is moving further away from God (existentialism )
He is the only Arab writer to have ever won a Nobel Prize in literature
Shortly after winning the prize Mahfouz was quoted as saying "The Nobel Prize has given me, for the first time in my life, the feeling that my literature could be appreciated on an international level.
The odd family dynamics are disturbing, but fairly well-presented by Mahfouz, the figures only slightly too simply drawn (it's hard to imagine that all would be so entirely uncritically subservient to the old man).
This article was adapted from a piece I wrote for PHOTOGRAPH Magazine in 2015. Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease. ~Naguib Mahfouz After three days in the canyon I finally settled into the rhythm of the place. Around 5am each day, just before first light, […]
is the story of the Jawad family, and Mahfouz begins his novel not with the dominant head of the household but with the mother, Amina -- the one who is always at home.
In Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the motif of obsession helps to both characterize and even foreshadow the fates of the characters.
More than anything, Kirsha is a character who likes to indulge his instincts. He has no self-control, and thinks only about his own joy. He seems most defined by an extreme arrogance and sense of entitlement. However, Mahfouz creates complicated characters in almost every instance, and one can certainly argue that Kirsha has a fondness for his family. Though it is qualified by his attraction to Abdu, he does allow Hussain to move back home despite their vicious argument when the boy left. Further, he remains married to his wife, somewhat recognizing the importance of the social construct. Whether or not Kirsha would remain with his family in a different society is difficult to answer, but he is certainly a man torn between the demands of his society and the demands of his own desires.
Using the sort of naturalistic stylethat was rapidly going out of fashion in the European and American templesof taste when he launched his writing career, Mahfouz chose to write aboutthe humble people of Cairo who were trapped in a web of economic andsocial relationships beyond their control.
The first of these, seven thousand years old, is the Pharaonic civilization; the second, one thousand four hundred years old, is the Islamic civilization." – Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Lecture.
It has been said by critics and readers alike that Midaq Alley is deeply influenced by Naguib Mahfouz's own childhood growing up in Cairo. It serves as a microcosm of many of the issues that interested Mahfouz during this time. The unfinished nature of the stories creates a few effects. The first is that it feeds the realism of the world; not every story has a satisfactory pay-off. As in life, some adventures fizzle out instead of ending with a bang. Secondly, this structure reinforces the ensemble nature of the book. It does not follow a fixed protagonist, but instead seems to focus on the alley itself. As a result, there are only a few stories that end with a traditional catharsis. Finally, this structure reinforces the novel's final theme: that time passes, and all washes away. The greatest tragedy will disappear in the same way that the most banal event will. From the perspective of time, all events are small. Many critics believe the novel's end is rushed, but because of the structure Mahfouz uses, the effect can also been seen as reinforcing the idea that this place will continue to exist even after the last page has ended.
Mahfouz is the most important Arab writer in modern Arabic literature with tens of novels and short stories, most of them deal with the political and social life in Egypt.
Midaq Alley essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz.