2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

"T-r-a-g-e-d-y": Social Portraiture in Naguib Mahfouz's Midaq Alley
Elizabeth A. Bramon
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Nestled obscurely in the changing world of WWII-era Cairo lies Midaq Alley, the setting of Mahfouz's novel of the same name. The inhabitants of this out-of-the-way slum live relatively unflattering existences, from the "dentist" who steals false teeth from corpses to the holy man who beats his wife. With these portraits the reader comes to realize, per one contemporary critic, the alley's "utter uncomeliness" and "its remarkable lack of any redeeming values." Throughout the novel lies the tension between this amoral, antiquated life of the alley and the allure of the modernizing world. The characters who do leave the stagnating alley do so by working under the British, but Mahfouz seems to discard that method as a fulfilling option because it leaves one man penniless, another dead, and a woman harlotized. The novel's social realism, both in its scathing portrayals and its inconclusive ending, leaves much interpretation for the human tragedy the author exposes.

Keywords: Nabuib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley, social realism


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 25-2
Location: OP 2121
Time: 10:00

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