Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz - PDF and EPUB eBook

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Born in 1911 in Cairo, Naguib Mahfouz is the leading Arab novelist, and the award to him of the Nobel Prize for Literature...

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Details of Children of Gebelawi

Exact title of the book
Children of Gebelawi
Book author
Naguib Mahfouz
Book edition
Number of pages
355 pages
December 1st 1981 by Heinemann Educational Books
File size (in PDF)
1420 kB
Children of Gebelawi

Some brief overview of book

Born in 1911 in Cairo, Naguib Mahfouz is the leading Arab novelist, and the award to him of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1988) has brought him worldwide recognition. His work portrays the vigorous life of Egypt's teeming cities. Children of Gebelaawi (banned in Egypt since its serialization in 1959, until two Cairo re-issues in 1994 in Arabic) is his most controversial work.

On the surface it is the history of a Cairo alley through several generations. Successive heroes struggle to restore the rights of the people to the trust fund set up by their ancestor Gebelaawi, usurped by embezzlers and tyrants. Mahfouz creates in all its detail a world on the frontier between the real and the imaginary.

At a deeper level, the book is an allegory whose heroes relive the lives of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed. Their appearance in a modern context invites the reader to see them as human beings relevant to the present day, not as remote sacred figures - to the consternation of some traditionalists. Most controversial is the significance of Gebelaawi, the immensely long-lived patriarch.

Mahfouz himself has said that his character represents 'not God, but a certain idea of God that men have made', standing for the god of those who forget the absolute transcendence of God affirmed by Islam. All this professes to be as narrated by the traditional bards in their simple earthy style, but the reader can also dig deeper in the hope of finding the thought of Mahfouz himself, a graduate in Philosophy who has chosen always to express himself in fiction rather than in academic abstractions.