Respected sir

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Doubleday, 1990 - Fiction - 200 pages
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With this portrait of a misanthropic civil servant, the Egyptian Nobel laureate devises a cunning send-up of egregious ambition, stodgy bureaucracy and cloying piety. Mahfouz's overblown language mirrors the grandiose aspirations of his protagonist Othman Bayyumi, a common archives clerk who schemes for a lofty appointment as Director General, expounding that "a government position is a brick in the edifice of the state, and the state is an exhalation of the spirit of God, incarnate on earth." As Egypt experiences the birth pangs of nationalism, Othman remains an apolitical, selfish loner wallowing in his self-imposed misery, who fawns over his superiors, works like a dervish and squirrels away his money, his only physical pleasures the visits he pays religiously to a prostitute, which "were usually followed by a wholehearted plea for forgiveness and a prolonged resort to prayer and worship."45 Envisioning marriage as a means to forge social connections that will launch him to glory, he viciously turns down prospective brides; because no one is good enough for him, he ends up in his later years with two wives, one a opium-addict aging prostitute, the other a young woman who uses him as he sought to use others. -- from http://www.amazon.ca (April 26, 2011).

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Respected sir

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Alienation is the theme Mahfouz investigates in these three latest translations. The earliest, Autumn Quail (1962), looks back on the revolution in Egypt through the character of Isa. Formerly a high ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
9
Section 2
23
Section 3
26
Copyright

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About the author (1990)

NAGUIB MAHFOUZ was born in 1911 in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He studied philosophy at Cairo University, then worked in various government ministries until his retirement in 1971. His first three published novels were Khufu's Wisdom (1939), Rhadopis of Nubia (1943), and Thebes at War (1944), all of which are set in ancient Egypt. These political and philosophical critiques disguised as historical romances show the unmistakable signs of a burgeoning literary genius. He went on to write more than 35 other novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous cinema plots and scenarios, many of which have been made into successful films. Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. In 2006, he died at the age of 95.

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