Midaq Alley Essay, Research Paper
Midaq Alley Book Review
Naguib Mahfouz is the author of the book Midaq Alley that was translated from Arabic by Trevor Le Gassick. First published in 1966, Midaq Alley displays a historical period of Egypt in the most intimate sense as it is persesnted through the lives of the characters that inhabit the alley.
Although the book is set in the early forties it possesses a taste of eternity as the reader watches the characters struggle through questions of morality, ethics, and traditions. (The answer of which shape their behavior.) This is all perceived through the eyes of the ageless alley, which is witnessed with total indifference. Thus, inhancing the feeling of eternity within which the circle of life is forever revolving.
Midaq Alley persents a diversity of chracters that creates the atmosphere that it is a whole life and a complete portray of a functioning Egyptian socity of the forties. Mahfouz successfully relates the events in Midaq Alley with the outside world by refering to politics. This is illustrated when he states that -at this period of the Egyptian history, working girls were usually jewish-they were the starting flare that began modernization. The materialistic insentive that characterized most of the inhabitants of the alley; best seen in Hamida, who in pursuite of her dreams of wealth and dresses became Titi that belongs to Ibrahim Faraj-the pimp. Another close reference to political events is through Abbas who leaves the alley to go work for the British Army in persue of material gains-regardless of the question of paterialism! furthermore, Mahfouz states the bad conditons of trade through Salim Alwan-the factory owner, as “wartime cut in imports from India”. Thus, stimulating merchantes that are personified in Salim Alwan to trade in different commodities, which perviously never interested them; for instance, tea.
This resulted in the creation of black markets and subtaintial profits for merchantes.
Intimate description of the inhabitants in Midaq alley gives the alley a life of it’s own. Mahfouz indulges the reader in the inhabitants inner thoughts and desires; Kirsha’s drug addiction and homosexuality; Zaita’s sadistic nature; Hamida’s untamed ambitions; Alwan’s desires for Hamida; Hussain’s dissatisfaction. On the other hand, there is Radwan Hussainy-the religiiou figure; Abbas the niave lover. Thus, Mahfouz created a complete sphere for a socity with the good along the bad; with the intangled destinies of the characters in Midaq Alley. Which like life itself possesses it’s own irony; Hamida-the concided beauty of the alley, is left at the end of the book with a scare on her beatiful face; Abbas finally over come his hesistance only to over react and get killed for the love of his life- Hamida.
One of the most outstanding charactes in Midaq Alley is Sheikh Darwish who is a sarcastic commenter on the events as they unfold. He is the voice of Naguib Mahfouz in the novel. The reader is introduced to him as a “fool” by the way he is dressed and the perception of the people of the alley of him. Midaq Alley as life itself it isn’t without an irony that wisdom is only utered through the words of the “fool”.
Mahfouz, Naguib. Midaq Alley. Trans. Trevor Le Gassick. Washington: Three Continents P. 1966.