Arabic Literature
English edition  
Aug  2006
198 pp.
Paperback
12.5X20 cm
$15.95
LE75
ISBN 9789774160301
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Rhadopis of Nubia

Naguib Mahfouz
Translated by Anthony Calderbank

The pharaonic novels of Naguib Mahfouz

Against the background of the high politics of Sixth Dynasty Egypt, a powerful love grows between Rhadopis, a courtesan whose ravishing beauty is unmatched in time or place, and youthful, headstrong Pharaoh Merenra, worshiped by his people as a divine presence on earth. Rhadopis comes of poor peasant stock, but her star rises until she become the most celebrated woman in the kingdom, entertaining her countless lovers, who include the most powerful men in the realm, with her dancing, singing, and stimulating intellectual conversation in her white palace on an island in the Nile. Despite the attention and the endless stream of suitors, however, Rhadopis’s heart remains cold and loveless—until events conspire in the strangest of ways to bring her to the attention of Pharaoh himself. From there the two of them embark on a journey of intense passion that is totally absorbing and ultimately tragic. As their obsession for one another burns wildly, they become caught up in the violent turbulence of the politics of the day—Merenra through his desire to sequester the properties of the priesthood and Rhadopis by her efforts to control the march of destiny and avoid their untimely but inevitable fate. But for Rhadopis, who has played with men’s minds and danced on the scattered shards of their broken hearts, and Pharaoh, who has sought to flout ancient tradition for his own ends, can the power of love ultimately offer protection?
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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. Anthony Calderbank, who lived in Egypt for many years, has had a long interest in Arabic language and literature. He is the translator of two novels by Miral al-Tahawy: The Tent (AUC Press, 2000) and Blue Aubergine (AUC Press, 2002).

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