Arabic Literature
English edition  
May  1997
160 pp.
Paperback
12.5X20 cm
$14.95
LE75
ISBN 978 977 424 444 5
For sale only in the Middle East

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The Journey of Ibn Fattouma

Naguib Mahfouz
Translated by Denys Johnson-Davies

First published in Arabic in 1983, this brief but powerful parable is set in a mythical, timeless Middle East. It is presented as the journal of a wanderer known as Ibn Fattouma, whose boyhood tutor had extolled the virtues of travel as a way of finding the true meaning of life. He joins a caravan and sets out to explore the world, his ultimate destination the enigmatic land of Gebel. Raised in an Islamic society, Ibn Fattouma finds to his surprise that many of the countries he visits, though heathen, are in some ways superior to his own. His first stop results in marriage to a non-believer, and children. However, war with another country and a clash with a city official cause him to lose his family, and he is forced to leave. In another country he is imprisoned for twenty years, accused of crimes against the state. Civil war frees him, and he moves on again, always seeking an intangible he is never able to find, always vulnerable to the winds of social and political change. Finally, he joins a caravan bound for Gebel—a country so distant and mysterious that no one has ever been known to reach it and return to tell the tale.
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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. Denys Johnson-Davies has produced more than thirty volumes of translation of modern Arabic literature, including The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim (AUC Press, 2008), The Essential Yusuf Idris (AUC Press, 2009), and The Essential Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press, 2011). He was described by Edward Said as “the leading Arabic–English translator of our time.” Johnson-Davies received the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2007 for Personality of the Year in the Field of Culture

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