[KINDLE] ❀ بين القصرين Author Naguib Mahfouz – Agedanna.info

بين القصرين Two years ago, I spotted Palace Walk in a bookshelf and thought that this might be an interesting read because the last time I encountered a story that has something to do with Muslim culture was in Khaled Hosseini s The Kite Runner and that was it Still, I always strive to expand my preferences and immerse myself on literature that is culturally diverse than I m used to In all honesty, I also selected to buy this particular book because of the Nobel Prize Awardee label attached to it So trusting that alone, I essentially went blind purchasing this novel, not knowing what to expect I didn t even research about the book afterwards, and only done so once I finally finished it last night during a four day Holy Week vacation at a beach resort In addition to reading Magneto Testament which I just finished under an hour Palace Walk has filled my humid, sea drenched days with unexpected humor and entertainment each time I turn its pages, because this was actually a witty book filled with cultural and psychological insights on a lifestyle and struggle I was never very familiar with, but could very much deeply relate to nonetheless It was rather shocking for me then, to be this insatiably riveted about a novel that mainly derives its drama and development from one family that s composed of some of the most well rounded, compelling and sympathetic characters I have ever come across in literature I was mistaken to believe this is going to be an intimidating and difficult novel to peruse through much like The Kite Runner which could be gruelling and depressing at times I really thought this would be challenging in a sense that its exploration or themes would be dark and serious but I was pleased to have been misled by that first impression Palace Walk is an utter delight, and a novel I can definitely say is very much character centered in its approach and exposition Writer Naguib Mafouz found his story s core strength and purpose by ensuring that these characters that readers would get to spend time with are always engaging and vibrant that we never stopped caring about them for a second I may not always agree with certain characters habits, temperament and actions but Mafouz has shown brilliant calibre because he managed to infuse just the right details concerning their personal lives that readers can t help but sympathize with them anyway Set in 1917 in Cairo, Egypt during the first World War, the novel could have stressed and divulged on the political climate which had engulfed the place and its constituents at the time, but in all honesty we never truly touch upon that until the last hundred pages or so of this five hundred paged book What the writer chose to dwell on instead is the Abd al Jawad family who is the integral part of the overall narrative structure for Palace Walk The author spent a great majority of the story tackling the inner conflicts and dynamics present within this household with the father al Sayyid Ahmad, his doting and subservient wife Amina, and their three sons Yasin, Fahmy and Kamal and two daughters Khadija and Aisha Their individual roles, personalities and relationships with each other never fail to be a source of not only endless amusement for me, but also substantial reflections about social issues As awfully entertaining Palace Walk has been in the way the writer dwelt with much of the interactions and scenes using wit and humor, Mafouz was also able to tackle general sensitive issues with sheer elegance and understanding, and they concern mostly of the submissive parts that women in general play during that time as dictated by their religious practices, as well as the pronounced gender dichotomy and bias that are so ridiculous through our modern perception by now Now I have never considered myself a staunch feminist but it did make me wonder if there are particular scenarios in this book that might possibly offend me if I did view it as a feminist in the first place which, by the way, I never claimed to be My own socio political leanings aside, I was still very much appalled with the fact that the Muslim women in this book are not allowed to go to school or learn issues from the outside world Their needs must always coincide with the men in their family, and their duties and fulfilment should always be centered around domesticity and homemaking I think this has always been the case though some Islam based countries have started to radically change these old world practices But taking into account the times this book was written in, I suppose I can understand why this is the way women are portrayed because it s an honest depiction of the lives they led at the time Regardless, I believe Mahfouz has written these themes with surprising optimism that blended so well with the tactful way he approached the issue I never felt bad for the women In fact, I developed genuine admiration for them with the way they managed to find the smallest joys even if I can t for the life of me imagine living such a heavily restricted existence where I m not allowed to study in school, form my opinions and speak my mind, make my own choices and find a career other than being a housewife and mother I try to avoid contextualizing my modern sensibilities as I read Palace Walk though, and doing so has made me enjoyed the novel and the characters a lot For me to futher illustrate this gender dichotomy for this review, let s take the mother Amina as an example She is one of my top favorites and I find her to be impressive in spirit and character She is virtuous and steadfast in her devotion to her philandering husband, and possesses a naturally curious mind that never truly realizes its potentials only because of the limitations that precede her gender Her only means to learn about new information is through her sons who adore her enough to include her in their intellectual debates and discussions some of the time It was mentioned later on that there are women who are allowed by their husbands to go outside every once in a while, but Amina s husband al Sayyid Ahmad is just too much of a conservative and controlling patriarch that wants to dominate everyone in his household The thing that really pisses me off about this man is that he s a hypocrite He maintains a false fa ade around his family while living a completely hedonistic life when he s around his co workers and multiple lovers Later on I began to pity him because he was always so concerned about keeping up appearances that his children have only known how to fear him and not love him That s I think is the greatest tragedy for a father but I don t think he will ever realize this, nor is it a concern of his As for the children, I really loved the eldest daughter Khadija and the youngest Kamal Khadija is definitely relatable because she is opinionated and shows a lot of intelligence which sadly only gets to shine through her deflective use of sarcasm to cover up her insecurities Much of her conflict revolves around being unmarried at twenty and the preference of suitors and potentials husbands to her younger sister Aisha whom I find only remarkable in beauty and not in personality Kamal, on the other hand, is inquisitive and playful, always living in his imagination and daydreams which makes him often a problem for his family I love him very much though because of his inclination to learn and his outward sunny disposition even if his father disapproves of him, as well as his affectionate relationships with his mother and sisters which I hope will stay the same even when he grows older The older two sons, Yasin and Fahmy, are well written characters themselves Yasin is the son from al Sayyid Ahmad s first marriage and he is probably the closest one who mirrors his father in a lot of ways, mostly his unflattering and vain qualities such as the way he perceives women and wrongly asserts his morality for the sake of a false sense of masculine security Again, as much as I dislike both of these men, I can understand why they believe they have a right to live their lives according only to their pleasure and whims, with callous disregard of the way their loved ones would feel Meanwhile, Fahmy is the second son who is an aspiring lawyer and is very much interested to involve himself in the inner workings of politics which I think could lead to some potentially disastrous results especially since they are living during wartime I like Fahmy enough because aside from Kamal who is still fairly young, he doesn t seem to be that preoccupied with lustful adventures unlike his father and brother, and finds satisfaction in scholarly matters Still, the truth remains that the gender dichotomy that their culture and society permeates is harmful in this sense, I believe Though the men are free to be who they want to be, they are still equally oppressed because they also feel that they have to play parts that serve to hide who they are and how they feel inside, all for the sake of machismo and patriarchy Basically, the selling point of this novel is that it s well balanced there are light and funny parts, as well as serious discussions about religion and political strife all the while the author himself took much care and sensitivity in regards to the way he characterized his protagonists in the context of their own belief systems that may not always be agreeable but were articulated authentically enough to merit some contemplation This book is also part of a trilogy, and I will certainly pick up the next two books because I am intrigued and invested on the world that Mahfouz has created Palace Walk excels in the exploration of the day to day pressures, self reflection and relationships of its characters As a reader, I can t help but care about their welfare even with Yasin and al Sayyid Ahmad whom I only have lukewarm feelings for I was able to celebrate the joys and despair the losses that these characters experienced as I glided comfortably through the pages, and I think that alone makes this novel very commendable and worth the read Overall, Palace Walk is humorous, insightful and easily enjoyable If you like character centered plots and family drama in general then this book might appeal to you It doesn t take itself that seriously and when it does, it can be warm and sublime in a lot of aspects, allowing readers to appreciate and value the richness of their own beliefs and idiosyncrasies as contrasted or reflected by the Abd al Jawad family s own RECOMMENDED 8 10DO READ MY REVIEWS AT The Cairo trilogy by NF is a work of Tolstoyan proportions, drawing a picture of a place during a certain period through its portrayal of a large number of well developed complex characters Though mostly it is a story of a joint family, it expands into the political and socio religious arena of its times There is a lot to this book than I will go into this review of its the first instalment of triology, Palace Walk.The writing in first few and last few chapters is simply beautiful The omniscient narrator is a lot like that of Midaq Alley, constantly chasing after the thought processes of his characters without making any moral judgments One word that you won t see NF use a lot is should unless he is recounting words or actions of his characters.The amorality of narrator works for me most of the time but sometimes it is really irritating, particularly initially when he is talking about double standards of al Sayyid Ahmad When it comes to running his family, Ahmed is quite a traditionalist even for his own times the 1910s and 1920s strict the polite word for oppressive both as husband and father so much that his second wife, Amina isn t allowed to leave the house without his permission even after nearly two decades of marriage When she give in to the temptation to visit a pilgrimage place in the city which she hadn t seen in all these years he punishes her by throwing her out of the house And this same traditionalist Ahmed becomes a womanizer, a drinker and music player when out among his friends He doesn t have any problem in taking liberty with the religious values when it comes to his own joy but rest of his family is not allowed to Despite this hypocrisy another word I can t imagine NF ever using for his characters , I still felt for him towards the end.At least one reviewer has claimed about submissiveness of Amina But one must remember that she found no support not in religion she was deeply religious , not with her husband, not in the society fate of Ahmed s first wife shows what little chance women of liberal spirits had of approval , not even her mother who tells her to thank God that her husband is not taking another wife.It is a case of three men make a tiger , it is very difficult to believe in your own truth when so many people are disagreeing with you Amina s conditioning is so complete or was it out of jealousy or some need of self justification, that she did her bit to make sure that her daughter in law too must have same house arrested life as she has she actually blames her daughter in law of overreacting when later asked for a divorce on grounds of her husband s adultery.Yasin is Ahmed s son from his first marriage He dislikes his mother for her adulteries, however, when he discovers his father s sensual pleasures, he is filled with pride another example of how social pressures are stronger on women Later, despite being a womanizer, he decided to amend his ways after his marriage and be loyal to his wife He wants to enjoy his marriage life like any young man would, however, Ahmed s conservative standards won t allow him to take his wife out for even cinemas And thus he turns back to womanizing.Perhaps that gives an insight into Ahmed s character too maybe, he too would have been honest to his wife, if he wasn t that big a traditionalist As it is, he doesn t even seem to know her A friend once gave me a theory how boys learn the concept of male dominant head figure from their fathers as in A Thousand Splendid Suns I don t completely agree, I think it is also about if boys spend enough time with mothers or other model female in their early childhood to be able to see life from their POV.But I think Ahmed seems to have this concept of male dominant figure He thinks he must, that he is figuratively duty bound, to show anger towards his wife and children he isn t of that temperament by nature to maintain a respectable distance from them to hide his sentimental side and so on.Anyways, there are a lot of other characters as well Some of other main character are Amina s four children from youngest to oldest Kamal the kid Supposed to be a doppelganger of NF himself, as the novel is a fictionalization of his childhood.Aisha the barbie doll of the story, that is, a beautiful thin teenage blonde with blue eyes A great romantic and loves singing in her beautiful voice.Khadija the not so beautiful one, my favorite because of how she can torture people with her sarcasm She doesn t let the envy for her sister to overshadow her love for same though she had sufficient reasons and is awarded for it.Fahmy the idealist student, has an old style look from far no touching no talking kind of love affair with his neighbor, participates in political struggle.Unlike Yasin, both Kamal and Fahmy, being attached to their mother from their childhood, have far better views of women than Kamal, which proves I was correct Well, I always am. This Is A Sweeping And Evocative Portrait Of Both A Family And A Country Struggling To Move Toward Independence In A Society That Has Resisted Change For Centuries Set Against The Backdrop Of Britain S Occupation Of Egypt Immediately After World War I, Palace Walk Introduces Us To The Al Jawad Family Ahmad, A Middle Class Shopkeeper Runs His Household Strictly According To The Qur An While At Night He Explores The Pleasures Of Cairo A Tyrant At Home, Ahmad Forces His Gentle, Oppressed Wife And Two Daughters To Live Cloistered Lives Behind The House S Latticed Windows, While His Three Very Different Sons Live In Fear Of His Harsh Will , 1919 1919 . 400 , 1919 , 01 02 03 04.05

About the Author: Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz Arabic author profile

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