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American University in Cairo Press, The
The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim / Edition 1

The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim / Edition 1

by Denys Johnson-Davies


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 2909774161512
Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, The
Publication date: 06/15/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

TAWFIQ AL-HAKIM (1898–1987), Egypt’s best known playwright, did for the Arabic theater what Naguib Mahfouz did for the Arabic novel. He wrote over seventy plays, as well as a number of novels and short stories and an autobiography.

DENYS JOHNSON-DAVIES, described by Edward Said as “the leading Arabic–English translator of our time,” began his career with the translation of a collection of short stories in 1947 and has since produced more than thirty volumes of translation of modern Arabic literature. His latest translation is Mohamed El-Bisatie’s Hunger (AUC Press, 2008).

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
The Sultan's Dilemma     5
The Tree Climber     87
The Donkey Market     165
The Song of Death     183
Novel: from Diary of a Country Prosecutor     201
Short Stories
Miracles for Sale     211
Satan Triumphs     217
Azrael the Barber     221
Autobiography: from The Prison of Life     225

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Tawfiq Al-Hakim, a prominent and prolific author and playwright in contemporary Arabic literature, known as the pioneer writer who had introduced the genre of drama, which was not adequately known enough prior to his early works published as early as the thirties of last century. He did not write plays only, but novels, essays in newspapers and short stories covering a diversity of topics and tackling important political, economic and social issues of his times. In referring to a comprehensive list including his works, more than sixty works were mentioned comprising novels, anthologies, plays, collected articles published in newspapers, compiled letters and compiled philosophical reflections on many issues. Many of his books were translated into many languages. Added to his well-established literary reputation in the Arabic-speaking countries, he lived until his 89th birthday enriching the Arabic library with numerous books. Reading few of his works at an early age, and re-reading recently his popular play 'People of the Cave' (Ahl al-Kahf), which was published in Arabic in 1933 which the author had completed writing in 1929. This play was translated into many languages, e.g. into French (1940), Italian (1945) and Spanish (1946). The play ¿ based on a theme taken from the Bible and Quran - could be categorised as fictional history. It is comprised of four acts. The plot of the play tells of three young shepherds who were believers, along with their dog Qatmeer, took shelter in a cave on top of a mountain hoping to escape a massacre and the atrocities of a vicious pagan ruler of Tarsus, Dukianus. They were destined to sleep for more than three hundred years, as they later on discovered when they ventured a trip to their own city, thinking they had slept for a day or two. People, customs and rulers they knew were altered, the people they knew and loved were long gone, people abandoned paganism and had become faithful believers. This play was written in faultless classical Arabic depicting those scared youngsters' plights and worries. Philosophical narratives take place between the protagonists stimulating the reader's mind to ponder about life and man's destiny. Tawfiq Al-Hakim was born in Alexandria, in Egypt. Al-Hakim studied law at Cairo University then headed to Paris, where he spent four years hoping to pursue higher education in Law - which he did not - instead he had the suitable enchanting milieu of Paris to nurture his passion for theater. His stay in Paris seemed to have left an everlasting influence on his life and works. In Paris, he was particularly influenced by the theatrical movement in that enchanting city, and gained respect for its role in society not as a respectable art, but as resouceful and vital place for literary activity. When he returned to Egypt, Al-Hakim was appointed at the Ministry of Justice, working as a public prosecutor in the Delta, where he had gained a diverse experience he wrote about in his book entitled 'Yawmiyat Na'ib fil-Aryaf' (Diary of an MP in Rural Areas, 1937). This novel was published in 1937, and was translated into many languages: French (many editions), English, Russian, Spanish, Romanian and German. Other popular works which he wrote and published during the thirties, his books 'Shehrazad' (a play, 1934), 'A Bird from the East' (a novel, 1938), 'People of the Cave' (a play, 1933) are just few of a long list. During the forties, some of what he wrote were 'Sultan of Darkness,' political tales, 1941), 'Pygmalion' (a play, 1942), 'Flower of Life' (autobiography, 1943), 'Oedipus the King' (a play, 1949). In the fifties, his works included 'Soft Hands' (a play, 1995), 'The Transaction' (a play, 1956), 'The Game of Death' (a play, 1957), 'A Journey into Tomorrow' (a play, 1957). In the sixties, he wrote 'Food for Every Mouth' (play, 1963), 'Sun of the Day' (a play, 1965), 'Bank of Anxiety' (a play, 1967). In the seventies, he wrote a 'Journey between Two E