Writer Naguib Mahfouz in Cairo, Egypt in April, 1999. (Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Rethinking the Arabic Literary Canon: Naǧib Maḥfūz

The generation of Egyptian artists and intellectuals from the 1960s and 1970s represented a turning point, redefining the literary canon of contemporary Egypt and across the Arab World. The little-known critical essay “Riḥla fī Thulāthiyyat Naguib Maḥfouẓ” by the Egyptian poet, dramatist and literary critic Naguib Surūr, represents one of the bravest attempts at redefining this literary canon, shedding new light on Mafouẓ’s novel Bayna al-Qaṣrayn. This contribution conceptualizes Surūr’s “Riḥla” as a successful attempt at broadcasting a revolutionary, experimental approach to literary criticism and considers its paradoxical exclusion from mainstream cultural production.

The Middle East Institute at Columbia University in New York will host a lecture by Dr. Chiara Fontana on “Naǧib Maḥfūz through Literary-Critical Experimentalism.” The program will be held at Knox Hall on November 19 at 4 pm.

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