Midaq Alley

Naguib Mahfouz's Depiction of Zaita as "the Id" in Midaq Alley 12th Grade

Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, revolutionized the world of Arabic narrative. Neither the novel nor the short story were common forms of expression until Mahfouz’ works became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. His writing is unique, both in Arabic culture and in the wider storytelling world, in that it often has no definable protagonist, and reads as a series of short stories which come together to form the work as a whole. Midaq Alley, translated into English for a 1966 release date, is a phenomenal example of these writing styles; each character holds equal importance and the reader is introduced to them gradually, in a soap-operatic fashion, through a myriad of views into their individual lives, dialogue, and interactions. Midaq alley, a back lane tucked away off the bustling streets of Cairo, functions as its own microcosm of Egyptian society. Much in the same way that certain actors in a soap opera garner more screen-time than their counterparts, so Mahfouz chooses which characters he will write more frequently with profound intent. Due to their brief vignettes, “secondary” characters are created very purposefully through the use of tight diction and varied syntax. A prime example of this is the...

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