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Three Novels of Ancient Egypt: Khufu's Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War by Naguib Mahfouz

Three Novels of Ancient Egypt: Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War

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Three Novels of Ancient Egypt: Khufu's Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War by Naguib Mahfouz
Mar 27, 2007 | ISBN 9780307266248
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  • Hardcover $26.95

    Mar 27, 2007 | ISBN 9780307266248

  • Ebook $11.99

    Nov 26, 2008 | ISBN 9780307491886

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“Mahfouz’s characters blaze with intensity, his Egypt pulsates with unresolved tensions.”

“Mahfouz’s understanding of human psychology and history is profound.”

“He is not only a Hugo and a Dickens, but also a Galsworthy, a Mann, a Zola, and a Jules Romains.”

“Mahfouz is the single most important writer in modern Arabic literature.”

“A storyteller of the first order in any idiom.”

“Through works rich in nuance—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—Mahfouz has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
—The Swedish Academy, upon awarding Mahfouz the Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Essay

by Nadine Gordimer

‘What matters in the historical novel is not the telling of great historical events, but the poet’s awakening of people who figure in those events. What matters is that we should re-experience the social and human motives which led men to think, feel and act just as they did in historical realities.’*

Naguib Mahfouz adds another dimension to what matters. Reading back through his work written over seventy-six years and coming to this trilogy of earliest published novels brings the relevance of re-experience of Pharaonic times to our own. The historical novel is not a mummy brought to light; in Mahfouz’s hands it is alive in ourselves, our twentieth and twentyfirst centuries, in the complex motivations with which we tackle the undreamt-of transformation of means and accompanying aleatory forces let loose upon us. Although these three fictions were written before the Second World War, before the atom bomb, there is a prescience–in the characters, not authorial statement–of what was to come. A prescience that the writer was going to explore in relation to the historical periods he himself would live through, in the forty novels which followed.

*Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell, Merlin Press, 1962.

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