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Miramar Paperback – December 14, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reissue edition (December 14, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038526478X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385264785
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"With  Miramar we are in the hands of a  considerable novelist, and one who knows his  country's complex problems, and complex soul,  profoundly."--John Fowles

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Arabic

Customer Reviews

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on August 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
At the center of Mahfouz's "Miramar" is the peasant girl Zohra, who flees to Alexandria in order to escape the traditionalist mores of her family. She finds employment as a servant at a pension, where five boarders have recently rented apartments, and "it is precisely her determination to emancipate herself, that the men about her admire...or resent," John Fowles writes in an introduction to the novel. "She stands for Egypt itself."

The story of the pension--and the killing that propels its plot--is told from four perspectives, each one revealing not only more about the incident but also details about the political ties and the backgrounds of the inhabitants of the Pension Miramar. At the opening of the novel, Mariana, the landlady and a widow twice over, lets a room to Amir, a retired journalist and lifelong bachelor, "driven into cold and meaningless neutrality" because of party differences by the likes of the "Muslim Brethren, whom I did not like [and] the Communists, whom I did not understand." One by one, the other four lodgers, as well as Zohra, present themselves, until the pension is full and the stage is set.

For Zohra, the Miramar becomes a safe house and a trap. Her family members attempt to flush her out of the building, but Mariana and the lodgers protect her from their rash, desperate attempts. But among her protectors she also becomes a source of jealousy. The two older residents regard the young woman as they would the past--what was or what might have been: youth, beauty, lost opportunities. The three younger men see her as representing the future: liberation, openness, confidence.

They all--old and young--vie for Zohra's attentions, and one of them dies, leaving everyone a suspect. "Everyone fought with him," Amir says of the victim.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Pension Miramar engages a fellaha (a young peasant woman), who ran away from her village to avoid a forced marriage.
She becomes the centre point of the attention of all the pension's inhabitants, because of her simplicity and natural beauty, but also for her ambition to get out of her traditional role of maid without education. The fellaha's battle to escape her humble fortune is mingled with her emotional love life and the more or less violent advances of some residents.
Like Kurosawa in his magisterial movie 'Rashomon' (based on a short novel by Ryunosuke Akutagawa), the evolving story is told from (here) four different angles (persons), revealing slowly the real motives behind the different clashes.
This novel contains some typical Mahfouz characters, like the career man, the wealthy playboy or the impostor ('employed by one master, serving secretly another').
Some themes are also familiar: 'If you have power, you have everything', or 'Everyone else around us behaves as if they didn't believe in God's existence'.
The novel is also a reflection on the failure of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952: 'But was there an alternative? Only the Communists or the Muslim Brotherhood.'
This is surely a worth-while read, but the book has not quite the finesse of its Japanese example.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
A writer at the end of his prime visits Alexandria for a restful break. As he sits in an easy chair in a pension run by his
old friend, he sees two worlds juxtaposed: in the first he recalls his own past, his heady days of idealism and political
activisim; in the second he examines his life against those of the other, younger, guests at the pension. He tries to
reconcile his own views and visions and dreams with those that he sees around him. Touched with a despairing sense
of terminal nostaligia, he manages to re-examine his own life in its entire context -- and still be able to smile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neodoering on October 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Five guests are staying at the pension Miramar, in Alexandria, Egypt, in the 1950s, and it is likely that one of them is a murderer. The book gives us the points of view of several of these hotel guests as it studies how each of them interact with the others and with Zohra, the servant girl at the hotel. Zohra is the backbone of the novel, the young, beautiful peasant girl who makes the older guests feel young again and who excites the desires of the younger guests. In Zohra the hotel's guests see the promise of Egypt in modern times, in a willful, intelligent girl who wants to better herself and find a suitable love. The murder mystery is incidental to all this, just one thread that radiates out from all the movements of the hotel's guests as they vie for Zohra's attentions.

This book is a page-turner that reads quickly and delivers satisfying psychological insights into the world of Egypt around the mid-1950s. The characters are drawn from a variety of social classes but mostly represent the upper classes, who are in a struggle for power. Most of them are in various shades of losing this struggle. This book is an interesting and revealing character sketch that includes several members of the older generation, who remember fondly the political struggles of bygone days, and several younger men, whose future is uncertain but is probably not bright. The book manages to be sobering but not depressing, and it is a valuable education for those Westerners who don't know modern Egyptian history that well, such as myself.
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