Before the Throne: A Modern Arabic Novel

Overview

In this extraordinary drama-in-dialogue, Naguib Mahfouz reveals his love for all of Egypt’s extensive history—and his deep knowledge of it. In Before the Throne, he summons nearly sixty of Egypt’s rulers to the afterlife Court of Osiris, from a king who unified Egypt for the first time, around 3000 BC, to a president assassinated by religious extremists in 1981.

He includes names as familiar as the pharaoh Ramesses II and as obscure as the medieval vizier Qaraqush. Defending ...

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Overview

In this extraordinary drama-in-dialogue, Naguib Mahfouz reveals his love for all of Egypt’s extensive history—and his deep knowledge of it. In Before the Throne, he summons nearly sixty of Egypt’s rulers to the afterlife Court of Osiris, from a king who unified Egypt for the first time, around 3000 BC, to a president assassinated by religious extremists in 1981.

He includes names as familiar as the pharaoh Ramesses II and as obscure as the medieval vizier Qaraqush. Defending their behavior before the divine tribunal, those who acted for the nation’s good are honored with immortality, but those who failed to protect it leave the gilded hall of eternal justice with a very different verdict.

Full of Mahfouz’s unique insight into his country’s timeless qualities, this controversial work skillfully traces five thousand years of Egypt’s past as it flows into the present, through the mind of its most acclaimed author.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
An early work by the only Arab writer yet to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, Cairo Modern was originally published in 1945 and was first issued in English in 2008 by the American University in Cairo Press, in the same translation that appears here. His fifth novel overall and the second to be set in 20th-century Egypt, it captures Mahfouz in a fiery, youthful stage. Though largely a work of social realism, the story has strands of the existentialism that would figure heavily in Mahfouz's later novels. Mahfouz explores the lives of several recent university graduates in 1930s Cairo, particularly that of Mahgub, a poor but ambitious young man whose life spirals out of control as he fiercely pursues a place among the upper class. Throughout, Mahfouz displays a mastery of character development and strong control of his themes, mainly the consequences of trying to escape one's fate.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789774162916
  • Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

RAYMOND STOCK, with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania, is writing a biography of Naguib Mahfouz. He is the translator of numerous works by Mahfouz, most recently Dreams of Departure (AUC Press, 2007).

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