Naguib Mahfouz
English edition  
November  1999
184 pp.
49 illus. 
Hardbound
17X24 cm
$27.95
LE80
ISBN 9789774245336
For sale worldwide

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Mirrors

Naguib Mahfouz
Illustrated by Seif Wanli
Translated by Roger Allen

Mirrors is one of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s more unusual works. First published in serialized form in the Egyptian television magazine, it consists of a series of vignettes of characters from a writer’s life—a writer very like Mahfouz himself. And accompanying each vignette is a portrait of the character by a friend of the author, the renowned Alexandrian artist Seif Wanli. Through each vignette—whether of a lifelong friend, a sometime adversary, or a childhood sweetheart—not only is that one character described but much light is thrown on other characters already familiar or yet to be encountered, as well as on the narrator himself, who we come to know well through the mirrors of his world of acquaintances. At the same time, Mirrors also reflects the recent history of Egypt, its political movements, its leaders, its wars, and its peace, all of which affect the lives of friends and enemies and of the narrator himself. As the translator writes in his introduction, "the narrator’s acquaintances from childhood, schooldays, and civil service career take him from the lofty heights of intellectual salons to the seamy squalor of brothels and drug dens; from the dreams of youth and nationalistic ideals to the sobering realities of post-revolutionary society and clashing economic and political values." The apparently simple but penetrating portraits by Seif Wanli add an extra, distinctive dimension to this already intriguing book. They originally appeared with the serialized texts in the television magazine, but were omitted when the book was first published in 1972, and were also omitted when the English translation first appeared in 1977. Now, in this special edition, the pictures and the complete text appear together for the first time.
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Naguib Mahfouz was born in 1911 in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous cinema plots and scenarios. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. He died in Cairo on August 30, 2006 at the age of 94. Seif Wanli was born in Alexandria in 1906. His prolific output is estimated at 3,000 oil paintings and more than 80,000 sketches; he also designed sets for theater and opera productions. He died in in 1979. Roger Allen is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has translated Mahfouz’s Autumn Quail and other works of Arabic literature.

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