In all, Mahfouz wrote 33 novels, 16 short story collections, several plays, 30 screenplays, and a variety of other works. However, much of his reputation is based on his 1956–57
Palace of Desire,
1992)—a sweeping series of novels that traces the history of a middle-class Cairo Muslim family through three generations, from 1917 to 1952. Another well-known novel,
Children of Gebelawi,
Children of the Alley,
1995), a semibiblical allegory, includes characters identified with Muhammad, Jesus, Adam and Eve, and Moses. Considered blasphemous by some, it remains controversial in the Arabic-speaking world and was banned in Egypt.
In the 1960s Mahfouz abandoned some of his realistic techniques and began to write shorter, faster-paced novels with stream of consciousness narratives and scriptlike dialogue, e.g., The Search (1964, tr. 1991). His other novels include Midaq Alley (1947, tr. 1975) and Miramar (1967, tr. 1978). Among his short stories are those in God's World (tr. 1973).
Mahfouz was an outspoken advocate of peace between Egypt and Israel, a position that made him a controversial figure in his homeland. In 1994 he was stabbed in an assassination attempt, apparently by an Islamic fundamentalist. Weakened by age, further debilitated by the attack, and unable to write longer pieces, during his late 80s he began to compose extremely brief dream-based vignettes a number of them were serialized in Egypt and later collected in The Dreams (2005).
See his Echoes of an Autobiography (1997) and Naguib Mahfouz at Sidi Gaber: Reflections of a Nobel Laureate 1994–2001 (2001) studies by S. Somekh (1973), M. Peled (1983), H. Gordon (1990), T. Le Gassick, ed. (1991), M. Beard and A. Haydar, ed. (1993), R. El-Enany (1993), M. Moosa (1994), and M. Milson (1998), R. A. M. Mneimneh, ed. (2004) bibliography by the Bibliographic and Computer Center, Cairo (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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