The Mirage

The Mirage

by Naguib Mahfouz


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A psychological study of the first order with a subtly Freudian flavor, The Mirage is the autobiographical account of Kamil Ru’ba, a tortured soul who finds himself struggling unduly to cope with life’s challenges. The internal torment and angst that dog him throughout his life and the tragic, ironic turns of events that overtake him as a young man are, to a great extent, the outworkings of his faulty upbringing. At the same time, they work together to drive home the novel’s underlying theme: the illusory, undependable nature of the world in which we live and the call to seek, beyond the outward and the ephemeral, that which is inward and enduring. The narrative, full of pathos, draws the reader unwittingly into a vicarious experience of Kamil’s agonies and ecstasies. As such, it is a specimen of Mahfouz’s prose at its finest.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307742582
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/14/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 5.24(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988.

Nancy Roberts is the translator of Salwa Bakr’s The Man from Bashmour (AUC Press, 2007) for which she received a commendation in the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Translation.

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The Mirage 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
The Mirage is a powerful psychological study of a man incapable of coping with the realities of the world. Our narrator and protagonist, Kamil Ru'ba Laz, is not likeable. He is pathetic, infuriating, narcissistic, and a great character. Kamil has been raised by his domineering mother, a woman so afraid that he will be taken from her by her ex-husband, like his older siblings were, that she holds him too tight. Growing up Kamil is not allowed to play with other children, barely allowed out of his mother's sight, and is fed sweet lies about how special he is. His mother fears not only that Kamil might be taken from her, but that he might form bonds with others and leave her in favor of them. Consequently through passive-aggression, she sabotages her son's life. Kamil grows up to be a man of little worth; uneducated, unambitious, and unable to communicate on a meaningful level with anyone outside his immediate family. Interestingly Kamil is aware of his shortcomings, yet still has an inflated picture of himself. This is because he refuses to accept responsibility for his life; all his failings, all his problems, all the obstacles to his happiness are the fault of others. When Kamil falls in love with the woman of his dreams (whom he has never met or spoken to) his deadly shyness and ignorance of worldly matters prevent him from making his feelings known. He stews in anguish while watching her from afar. When he miraculously manages to marry her his dreams of a life of normalcy and happiness seem to be fulfilled. But Kamil is not let off the hook so easily; he has little understanding of, or experience with, interpersonal relationships, and this lack of knowledge will lead to tragedy. This novel can at times be a little repetitive, and some scenes drag a bit, but all-in-all this is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.