Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
23 - 29 December 1999
Issue No. 461
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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Stories of struggle

Naguib Mahfouz Someone told me recently that the Spanish newspaper El Mundo had chosen my novel The Struggle of Thebes as one of the most important of the twentieth century. I must say, I was amazed; at first, I thought they meant that it was the most important of my Pharaonic novels, which I wrote before my realist phase. But then I learned that the newspaper had decided that The Struggle of Thebes incarnates the struggle of the Egyptian people against foreign colonialism.

Such liberation movements may well have been the principal feature of the twentieth century, which witnessed the end of the great imperialist empires and the achievement of independence for indigenous peoples the world over. My novel linked the events taking place in Egypt at the time when I wrote it, under British occupation, with the historical dimension: events in the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. So it was written in a spirit of humanism, the spirit of national emancipation.

The Struggle of Thebes reflected the spirit of the age, and was received with great enthusiasm abroad when El Mundo, which is widely distributed, decided to print and distribute the novel with the newspaper.

Probably, part of the interest is due to the global obsession with all things Pharaonic.

Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy.

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