The Beginning and the End

The Beginning and the End

4.6 3
by Naguib Mahfouz, Najib Mahfuz

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First published in 1956, this is a powerful portrayal of a middle-class Egyptian family confronted by material, moral, and spiritual problems during World War II.


First published in 1956, this is a powerful portrayal of a middle-class Egyptian family confronted by material, moral, and spiritual problems during World War II.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this realistic 1949 novel, previously published here in a limited edition, the Nobel laureate reveals to Western readers the woes of a petit bourgeois family thrust into poverty in WW II Cairo. The Kamels' private battles, relayed here in engrossing detail, are a microcosm of the Egyptian nation's birth pangs in gaining independence. When their father dies, age-old conventions crumble--one social-climbing son reneges on a betrothal; drugs and illicit sex numb the grief of two self-hating siblings. Redolent of a culture verging on modernity, the work illumines courting rituals, weddings, funerals, food, dress, interior decor and and entertainment. According to Mahfouz, the plight of Egyptian women in the 1940s was complex. The widow Samira is respected, wise and controlling; her daughter Nefisa's physical ugliness is a virtual death sentence, and her skill at needlework a source of embarrassment, not pride. Readers may appreciate this novel's authenticity and rare terrain but will surely be irked by overt politicizing, highly melodramatic prose and a lackluster translation. (Oct.)
Edward Said
He is not only a Hugo and a Dickens, but also a Galsworthy, a Mann, a Zola, and a Jules Romains.
London Review of Books

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.85(d)

Meet the Author

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy and an avid reader, his works range from reimaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. Over a career that lasted more than five decades, he wrote 33 novels, 13 short story anthologies, numerous plays, and 30 screenplays. Of his many works, most famous is The Cairo Trilogy, consisting of Palace Walk (1956), Palace of Desire (1957), and Sugar Street (1957), which focuses on a Cairo family through three generations, from 1917 until 1952. In 1988, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first writer in Arabic to do so. He died in August 2006.

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The Beginning and the End 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
mare-nyc More than 1 year ago
Unbelievably great read. Mahfouz deconstructs Middle Eastern culture with a stirring insight that will stay with you long after you complete this book. The family dynamics is a journey onto itself and it manifests itself in a truly shocking ending. The characters are engrossing and the unfolding of their everyday lives will tug at your heartstrings. One of the most original and stimulating book I've read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a college course as well, and the cover through me off, I thought it was going to be a boring, confusing story. It turned out to be the complete opposite. I couldn't put it down, it was a good read.. scratch that, a GREAT read. Private life vs Public life and the mixture of the two. I enjoyed every page, but the first chapter really put tears in my eyes, the rest was captivating. Very easy to read, very interesting, and gets straight to the point. Felt like I was reading a play.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mahfouz, is one of the contemporary Egyptian writers who creates a book that is moving and page turning. I had to read this book for my history class at the University of Pennsylvania, and it depicts the life and role of men and women in the Egyptian culture. It also depicts the class strife that emerged and provides an insightful view into Egyptian society. Not only does it provide such a deep analysis, but it also is a page turning book that keeps you in suspense of the conclusion. A masterpiece by all accounts