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Arabian Nights and Days: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Nobel laureate Mahfouz's collection of tales inspired by A Thousand and One Nights was originally published in Arabic in 1979.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Anyone with suspicions about the fairy tale tag "They lived happily ever after" will have them confirmed here. The latest translation of Mahfouz (winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature) is a clever, witty concoction that begins on the day following the Thousand and One Nights, when the vizier Dandan learns that his daughter, Shahrzad, has succeeded in saving her life by enthralling the sultan with wondrous tales. But Shahrzad is miserable and distrusts her husband, who, she suspects, is still capable of bloody doings. All is not well outside the palace either, where a medieval Islamic city teems with anxious souls. Many of them, like the devout Skeikh Abdullah al-Balkhi, strive to attain a high spiritual station, but few succeed, especially when genies and angels intervene, as they do often in this series of linked intrigues and adventures. Mahfouz succeeds splendidly with this fantasy, which should appeal to a wide readership. [Mahfouz is recovering from an October 14th Knife attack by alleged Islamic militants.-Ed.]-Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
--Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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This little book led me to the Cairo trilogy a truly epic saga from a Nobel Literature Prize winner.
Against the djinn are a few morally upright humans and one angel whose powers are extremely limited. This small band tries to stem the tide of corruption and despair which pervades the entire book and gives it its central themes.
This is a very, very enjoyable collection of stories, fast-moving and philosophical in tone, posing questions of moral weight and conscious import through its vignettes. I had such a good time with this book that I read it in one sitting. Mahfouz is not trying to give you answers with this book, he's posing questions about moral behavior and corruption and showing what happens when corruption gains the upper hand in people's lives. Beyond that, he's playing with familiar characters from the Arabian Nights and re-writing their stories to take these themes into account. If you're looking for a book that slavishly follows the stories of the Arabian Nights, this book isn't for you. Mahfouz deviates from the stories in that book to explore his key themes; for instance, Aladdin in Mahfouz's story is put to death for theft before he ever had his adventures with the wondrous lamp, and Ma'rouf the Cobbler never finds the treasure hoard in the farmer's field. The book reads like a hallucination, with characters coming and going at whim, their stories warping and twisting as the djinn screw with them and throw obstacles in their paths. If you want an exploration of corruption and moral redemption, you will find it here, and well handled. Come to this collection understanding that Mahfouz is not re-writing classic tales but is telling them anew on his way to his own explorations, and you'll be in the right frame of mind for these stories.
This is my second read from Naquib Mahfuz, he boldly exposes the true realities and choices one faces and makes in every day life. Due to this i found the book somewhat depressing.
But on another level, Mahfouz indirectly poses a more philosophical query: to what extent am I responsible for my actions, and if I err, to what extent can I blame circumstances, outside interference, and my inherent weakness as a human being? And if a very wicked person repents of his evil deeds, how much forgiveness is he entitled to in this world?
I recommend the book.