معرفی کتاب از قصر تا قصر

اثر نجیب محفوظ از انتشارات جامی - مترجم: ناصر طباطبایی-ادبیات داستانی

The novels of the Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons—the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. The family’s trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two world wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries.

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I bought this a while ago because the author was the first (and, so far, only) person from the Arab world to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. But then I let it sit on my shelf for a long time because it looked like it was going to be dry and boring. It wasnt. Its the story of a family in early 20th century Egypt - their power/gender dynamics under the rule of an authoritarian father figure, the importance of religion in their lives, and their attempts to evolve (or not evolve) in response to the changing times, including the fight for Egyptian independence from England. I didnt expect to like it so much, but it was really engaging and so different from typical western literature - in fact, I might even go on to read the second and third books in the trilogy.

مشاهده لینک اصلی

(Palace Walk is the first volume of the Cairo Trilogy. It was originally published in Arabic in 1956; translated by William M Hutchins and Olive E Kenny, then released in English by Doubleday in 1990)

Naguib Mahfouz is a Nobel prize winner from 1988. He is credited as the first Egyptian to write modern novels. Palace Walk follows a middle class family through two years in the early 1900s. World War I is ending, leaving Egypt under occupation by British forces, their leaders sent into exile and the populace in rebellion. The political factors are as much a part of the story as the family matters. This has been Mahfouzs theme in all his novels so far: the outside influences which bring change to religious and family traditions.

Al-Sayyid Ahmad, the father of the family, is a complex character who rules his wife and children in the strictest interpretation of Muslim patriarchy. His wife and two daughters never leave the home unless wrapped in cloaks and veils and under his close chaparonage. His three sons work or go to school but all live in abject fear of Ahmads anger and displeasure.

But out in the world, Ahmad is admired and well thought of even though he is a womanizer and gets drunk every night. As his children begin to marry and one son becomes deeply involved in revolutionary activities, Ahmad has to confront the contradictions in his character though he changes little.

The plight of most women is dire. Basically imprisoned in their homes, submissive to husbands from arranged marriages and only scantily educated, they play no other part in the social world besides mother and wife. The only alternative for a woman is to become an entertainer and mistress to wealthy men. Not all husbands are as strict as Ahmad, who exemplifies the extreme, but no @respected@ woman gets far.

Palace Walk is a look into another culture, though also an example of life in present day Iran and Afghanistan. I predict further and more far reaching upheavals in the second and third books of the Cairo Trilogy, but in this first volume, Mahfouz has laid out how Egypt was before the larger picture changed.

As a writer, he is strong on character, both male and female. His plotting is less dramatic so it is the characters, their emotions and conflicts, hopes and fears, that drive the novel and keep one reading. In every one of his books so far, I have reached the end satisfied by a stirring tale.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
** spoiler alert ** Page 56:
@The important thing is to rid ourselves of the nightmare of the English and for the caliphate to return to its previous grandeur. Then they will find the way prepared to us.@

Page 322:
@Amazing news is spreading among the students. A delegation or @wafd@ composed by the nationalist leaders Sad Zaghlul Pasha, Abd al-Aziz Fahmy Bey, and Ali Sharawi Pasha went to the British Residency in Cairo yesterday and met with the High Commissioner, requesting that the British protectorate over Egypt be lifted and independence declared.@

Page 235:
Tell me, brother, what can Sad do against a nation that now considers itself the unrivaled mistress of the world?@
The mother nodded her head in agreement, as though he had been addressing her. She stated: @The revolutionary leader Urabi Pasha was one of the greatest men and one of the most courageous. Sad and the others are nothing compared with him. He was in the cavalry, a fighting man. What did he get from the English, boys? They imprisoned him and then exiled him to a land on the other side of the world.@

Page 353:
@If we dont confront terrorism with the anger it deserves, may the nation never live again. Its unthinkable for the nation to be at peace when its leader who has sacrificed himself for it suffers the torments of captivity.@

Page 358:
@Down with the Protectorate!@
@Our fathers have been imprisoned. We dont study law in a land where the law is trampled underfoot.:

Page 373:
A revolution was raging in all areas of the Nile Valley from the extreme north to the extreme south. Fahmy recounted what he knew about the railroads and telegraph and telephone lines being cut, the outbreak of demonstrations in different provinces, the battles between the English and the revolutionaries, the massacres, the martyrs, the nationalist funerals with processions with tens of coffins at a time, ant the capital city with its students, workers, and attorneys on strike, where transportation was limited to carts. He remarked heatedly, @Is this really a revolution? Let them kill as many as their savagery dictates. Death only invigorates us.@

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Book one of The Cairo Trilogy, authored by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1988).

This is the story of the life of an Egyptian Muslim family living through the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of the 1919 revolution against British rule, a time of dramatic change in Egypt.

It isnt short book, but it is a relatively easy read. The chapters are short and loosely change from character to character. The character depth is engrossing and each characters story gets a hearing, and all are linked in the dynamic of the Al Jawad family. The characters are all accessible, and easy to identify with, despite being caught up in the conservative Muslim gender rules of the time.

The characters are interesting and dynamic, from the two sides of the patriarch Ahmad, who rules the family with an iron fist, controlling them with the most conservative interpretation of family modesty, yet lives his own debauched life outside of his home, to the other family members - subservient wife Amina, eldest son Yasin from his first marriage, eldest daughter Khadija, son Fahmy, blonde blue eyed daughter Aisha and youngest son Kamal.

Marriages, births, deaths, divorce. The occupation of Egypt by the British, the roles of gender, and family politics all feature heavily, although it stays relatively shallow on Egyptian politics, which is probably why this book stays so readable.

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected, and have the second and third parts of the trilogy on the shelf, so have no hesitation in keeping them on the to-be-read-list.

Retrospectively upgraded to 5 stars on completion of the trilogy.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
At 512 pages, @Palace Walk@ is a carefully detailed domestic drama that proceeds at a leisurely pace, exploring the day-to-day life of a WWI-era family and eventually the impact of larger political events as Egypt struggles for independence from British rule. Much of the novel concerns the conflicts between an authoritarian family patriarch, his submissive wife, and his young sons and daughters, whose own struggles for independence mirror the rise of nationalistic spirit that erupts in street demonstrations and strikes.

For Western readers, the novel is an introduction to the values and dynamics of the traditional Islamic family, where @respectable@ women are housebound, and only boys and men are free to get an education and find employment. The novel also reveals the double standard that permits men to be less than faithful to their wives, while skillfully maintaining an honorable reputation and keeping a firm grip on the moral high ground at home. Meanwhile, the novel reveals how thoroughly Islamic beliefs infuse daily life and social values.

Reviewers here look for comparisons to the Grand Masters of fiction (Dickens Dostoyevsky, etc.). But for me, the daily routines of home life, the rivalries between siblings, the worried concern of marriage for two daughters (one pretty, one plain), coming-of-age affairs of the heart, the threat of divorce, and chapters devoted to other such matters make this novel much in the tradition of Jane Austen. A difference, however, is that surprise events at its close raise new concerns that are left unresolved, and propel the reader onward to the next novel in this wonderful and very readable trilogy.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
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#جایزه نوبل ادبیات - #داستان تاریخی - #ادبیات داستانی - #داستان درام - #ادبیات کلاسیک - #ادبیات مصر - #دهه 1950 میلادی - #تازه های ایران کتاب -
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