Al-’alaam al riwa’i ‘inda Naguib Mahfouz (The world of the novel in Naguib Mahfouz), by Ibrahim Fathi, Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organisation: Family Library Series, 2012.
Among the books selected for the newly revamped Family Library project, the seasoned critic Ibrahim Fathi’s analysis of the novels of Naguib Mahfouz deserves special mention.
Fathi presents two completely distinct worlds within the work of Mahfouz: one, depicted in the Trilogy, shows a stable and established middle class; the other portrays another, far more uncertain middle class, which started appearing in Mahfouz’s world during what is known as his “philosophical phase”. According to Fathi, Mahfouz’s characters all experience the dilemmas of reality, though in different ways and by way of different social backgrounds; they are in constant evolution.
Ibrahim Fathi is an Egyptian critic belonging to the 1960s generation, with Marxist tendencies, yet with fresh ideas that don’t belong with the Socialist Realism popular at the time. His studies analyse both the cultural and aesthetic context of the work produced.
The Family Library project was initiated by the former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, but was revamped with new management last Summer — led by the late Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Aslan, who lived to see only the first of the publications of the new season.