Friday, September 01, 2006

The Arabic Renaissance and the Rise of the Egyptian Novel Naguib Mahfouz

Arabic literature can be traced back almost two thousand years. Poetry has always been its most prominent genre, but there is also an ancient tradition of narrative that expresses itself in a wealth of different oral forms. In Egypt, the collection of stories called The Arabian Nights, a series of tales of Indian, Iranian, and Iraqi origin, was brought to its final and most developed form. This coincided with an ancient Egyptian tradition of storytelling which has remained vivid and alive to this day, the public storyteller having been a cultural institution for ages.

The birth of the Egyptian novel, however, could not take place until the modern era, when five preconditions had been fulfilled: 1) the influence of European literature, where the novel developed into a major genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; 2) the establishment of Egyptian printing works and pressrooms in the nineteenth century along with the rise of newspaper production; 3) public education and the spread of literacy; 4) a gradual liberation from oppression by foreign powers, starting with the reign of Muhammad Ali in the aftermath of the Napoleonic occupation in the early 1800s; and 5) the emergence of an intellectual class with broad international learning. more..


Post a Comment

<< Home