The Innocence of the Devil

Overview

Nawal El Saadawi's books are known for their powerful denunciation of patriarchy in its many forms: social, political, and religious. Set in an insane asylum, The Innocence of the Devil is a complex and chilling novel that recasts the relationships of God and Satan, of good and evil. Intertwining the lives of two young women as they discover their sexual and emotional powers, Saadawi weaves a dreamlike narrative that reveals how the patriarchal structures of Christianity and Islam are strikingly similar: physical...
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Overview

Nawal El Saadawi's books are known for their powerful denunciation of patriarchy in its many forms: social, political, and religious. Set in an insane asylum, The Innocence of the Devil is a complex and chilling novel that recasts the relationships of God and Satan, of good and evil. Intertwining the lives of two young women as they discover their sexual and emotional powers, Saadawi weaves a dreamlike narrative that reveals how the patriarchal structures of Christianity and Islam are strikingly similar: physical violation of women is not simply a social or political phenomenon, it is a religious one as well. While more measured in tone than Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Saadawi's novel is similar in its linguistic, literary, and philosophical richness. Evoking a world of pain and survival that may be unfamiliar to many readers, it speaks in a universal voice that reaches across cultures and is the author's most potent weapon.

Author Biography: Nawal ElSaadawi is an Egyptian feminist, socialist, medical doctor, and writer. Her works include The Hidden Face of Eve (1982) and Memoirs from the Women's Prison (California, 1994). Sherif Hetata, who is married to Saadawi, is a physician and writer who spent thirteen years in prison for speaking out against the Egyptian government. Fedwa Malti-Douglas is Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities at Indiana University and the author of Men, Women, and God(s): Nawal El Saadawi and Arab Feminist Poetics (California, 1995).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this densely structured allegorical novel, Saadawi (The Fall of the Imam), Egypt's foremost feminist writer, again confronts the role of women in Muslim society-this time, by imagining a disturbing, dangerous world characterized by miscommunication between the sexes and ancient strictures on behavior. Set in and around an insane asylum, the story centers on two women: Ganat, an inmate who slips in and out of consciousness, and Narguiss, who has failed a test of virginity on her wedding night. The lives of both are constricted by the power that men have over them. What the author sees as the dual, warring nature of men's feelings toward women-admiration for women's procreative power conflicting with their need to make women submit to them-lies at the heart of Ganat and Narguiss' problems, which are further complicated by a society in which Christianity and Islam coexist in uneasy balance. The narrative, which shifts through multiple points of view and from present to past and back again, is extremely difficult to follow, lessening the emotional impact of the characters' plights. Still, Saadawi writes beautifully and in abundant and evocative physical detail of an Egypt that remains closely tied to the land and to a way of life that in many aspects has not changed for centuries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520216525
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/1998
  • Series: Literature of the Middle East Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 233
  • Sales rank: 1,254,864
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Nawal El Saadawi is an Egyptian feminist, socialist, medical doctor, and writer. Her works include The Hidden Face of Eve (1982) and Memoirs from the Women's Prison (California, 1994). Sherif Hetata, who is married to Saadawi, is a physician and writer who spent thirteen years in prison for speaking out against the Egyptian government. Fedwa Malti-Douglas is Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities at
Indiana University and the author of Men, Women, and God(s): Nawal El Saadawi and Arab Feminist Poetics (California, 1995).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: From Theology to Rape
1 Ganat Arrives 1
2 The First Session 14
3 Another Woman 30
4 Narguiss 38
5 A Fight in the Night 52
6 Nefissa 68
7 Ganat in a Moment of Consciousness 86
8 Guilt 104
9 And in the Beginning was the Serpent 130
10 Sinful Love 150
11 Nefissa Stops Calling Out 176
12 Ganat Breaks Out 198
13 The Innocence of the Devil 215
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