Monday, March 2, 2009

autumn quail

finished Autumn Quail this morning. the 3 Mahfouz novels together (Beggar / Thief / Quail) are an interesting series... all about the Egyptian revolution [of 1952]. wish i knew/could read more about that particular period of history there. would be nice to know the events he refers to in the novels.

the last 2 (Thief and Dogs / Autumn Quail) are somewhat linked. people speculate that negative criticism on Thief, which is quite a critical/caustic commentary on the revolution and groups involved, drove Mahfouz to make Quail a little more positive/optimistic. at least in terms of how things may end up being for those involved in the revolution. especially those more or less "betrayed" by the events of that time.

the protagonist (Isa) ends up running after a character symbolizing all the positive things about the revolution. and, in fact, this alter ego. that the ending's a bit contrived leads people to say Mahfouz kinda bent to his critics and/or the political establishment. well... regardless, good book.

a strand that runs through Beggar and Quail that i found of interest was the once successful/wealthy/powerful protagonist who falls from his status into despair, apathy and depression. a total lack of passion and direction to equal only the total ambition and zeal before his fall from rank.

nihilism... is what the editor calls it. "3ala kaifak" [as you like] attitude. the world ain't right, so who cares. sad psyche. disturbing. Mahfouz probes it well. all too well.

wanted to leave the house. rain is falling though. heavy. cleaned the place this morning. think i got all the mice, insha'Allah.

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