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Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz

Palace of Desire (edition 1991)

by Naguib Mahfouz

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1,013138,409 (4.04)1 / 112
Title:Palace of Desire
Authors:Naguib Mahfouz
Info:Doubleday (1991), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 422 pages
Collections:Your library

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Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz


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English (10)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  All (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I am glad that a friend warned me that this second book in the Cairo trilogy would not live up to the first one (which I loved) -- this one, though well written, wasn't nearly as interesting to me. The women in the family are much more in the background for one thing; another is that Kamal, the youngest son, spends long sections rhapsodizing about his first love Aïda. He didn't seem to know her at all; in fact, it was more that he was in love with being in love. Yasin and his father both continue to behave as they did in the first book, though the father's behaviour towards his family was a little softened.

I do look forward to the final book in this trilogy! ( )
  leslie.98 | Nov 14, 2016 |
A continuation of Palace Walk which showed the perspectives of each member of an entire Egyptian family, their strengths, weaknesses and hypocrisies, all set in patriarchal Egypt, Palace of Desire took on more male-centric inner monologues. The views of Al-Sayid Ahmad, Yasim and Kamal and their at-times infuriating hypocritical or idealistic justifications sideline the voices of Amina, Khadija and Aisha are relegated to the background which unbalances the book overall.

In any case, the author continues painting a detailed and realistic portrait of a Egyptian family whose common grief, clashing personalities and religious background colour and is interwoven in their daily life, their speech and their actions. After all, where else can the appearance of beer and ham cause friction between friends and reveal so much about the characters? Recommended for fans for Palace Walk, of course.

Aside: in the confrontation between Bahija and Yasim, she dropped so many hints about his father, I was yelling at him to notice but of course he didn't. It seems unlike that he'll be having the epiphany in the next book ( )
  kitzyl | Oct 21, 2016 |
'You're a failure as a father. Your best son has died, the second's a loss and the third is headstrong'
By sally tarbox on 21 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
The superb follow-up to 'Palace Walk' resumes the family saga five years on. Patriarch Ahmad is slightly less of a tyrant since the tragedy:

'It was not out of the question at such a moment for Kamal to ask his father politely ''When will custody of Ridwan revert to his father, Papa?" In that way he demonstrated the dramatic transformation of his relationship to his father.
Al -Sayidd Ahmad had replied "When he turns seven" instead of screaming "Shut up, you son of a bitch!"

Wife Amina enjoys permission to venture out - a little - and has even started speaking her mind on occasion. With the daughters married off, the principal action in this volume comes from the menfolk, notably youngest son Kamal, who has fallen desperately in love with the sister of a wealthy schoolfriend. His pure and obsessive adoration for Aida is utterly compelling, as we follow his maturing and his changes in beliefs.
Older brother Yasin meanwhile continues a life of loose-living; and after a period of abstinence Ahmad too has taken to nights out again, and a new mistress...
Absolutely unputdownable; Mahfouz leaves us on a cliffhanger that means you just have to start on volume 3! ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
I probably didn't read this at the right time- I've been a little distracted- but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the first book. The book is centered on the youngest son, Kamal, who is a dreamy intellectual in love for the first time. His feelings are so flowery and naive which are a wonderful contrast to the rest of the characters who are far more cynical and earth-bound but after awhile his musings seem to drone on and on.The rest of it was great and I particularly loved the women in this one- the cheeky Zanuba who finagles an impossible marriage, the self-righteous Khatidja. I don't remember the first interspersing dialogue with internal dialogue as much as this one- maybe it did- but the constant self-commentary slowed the narrative momentum for me. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad is the tyrannical head of his household, demanding total, unquestioning obedience from his wife, Amina, his sons, Yasin, Fahmy and Kamal, and his daughters, Khadija and Aisha. A fearsome and occasionally violent presence at home who insists on strict rules of Muslim piety and sobriety in the house -- for example, his wife is hardly ever allowed to leave the house, to maintain the family's good name -- al-Sayyid Ahmad permits himself officially forbidden pleasures, particularly music, drinking wine and conducting numerous extramarital affairs with women he meets at his grocery store, or with courtesans who entertain parties of men at their houses with music and dancing. Because of his insistence on his household authority, his wife and children are forbidden from questioning why he stays out late at night or comes home intoxicated.

Yasin, the eldest son, is al-Sayyid Ahmad's only child by his first marriage, to a woman whose subsequent marital affairs are the source of acute embarrassment to father and son. Yasin shares his father's good looks, and, unbeknownst to al-Sayyid Ahmad, Yasin also shares his tastes for music, women and alcohol, and spends as much time and money as he can afford on fine clothes, drink and prostitutes. Fahmy, Amina's elder son, is a serious and intelligent law student, who is heavily involved in the nationalist movement against the British occupation;; he also pines for his neighbor, Maryam, but cannot bring himself to take any action. Khadija, the elder daughter, is sharp-tongued, opinionated, and jealous of her sister Aisha, who is considered to be the more beautiful and marriageable. Aisha, meanwhile, is more mellow and conciliatory, and tries to maintain peace. Kamal, the baby of the family, is a bright young boy who frightens his family by befriending the British soldiers who have set up an encampment across the street from the Abd al-Jawad house; he is also very close with his mother and his sisters, and is deeply dismayed when the prospect of marriage for the girls arises.

Major elements of the plot include al-Sayyid Ahmad's philandering, Yasin's cultivation of the same hobbies, Fahmy's refusal to cease his political activities despite his father's order, and the day-to-day stresses of living in the Abd al-Jawad house, in which the wife and children must delicately negotiate certain issues of sexual chastity and comportment that cannot be discussed openly. Through the novel, Yasin and Fahmy gradually become aware of the exact nature of their father's nighttime activities, largely because Yasin begins an affair with a young courtesan who works in the same house as al-Sayyid Ahmad's lover. After glimpsing his father playing the tambourine at a gathering in the house Yasin understands where his father goes at night, and is pleased to find that they have similar interests. Amina, meanwhile, has long ago guessed her husband's predilections, but represses her resentment and grief so intensely that she behaves almost willfully ignorant of the whole matter.

The family provides the novel with its structure, since the plot is concerned with the lives and interrelationships of its members. However, the story is not set in isolation; indeed, the characters themselves are important mediators between issues of local or wider scope. For example, the theme of 'authority' (particularly its establishment and subversion) is woven into both the maturation of the children of the el-Gawad family and the wider political circumstances which provide the novel with its temporal boundaries.

The novel's opening chapters focus upon the daily routine of the el-Gawad family. Amina, the mother of the family, greets the return of her husband, al-Sayyid Ahmad, from his late-night socialising. She rises once again at dawn to begin preparing food, assisted by her daughters Khadija and Aisha. Her sons join their father for breakfast. At this meal, as with any other dealing with the patriarch, strict etiquette is observed. Subsequent chapters proceed to explore the characters of family members, particularly their relationships with one another. The marriage of the children provides a key focus, as do challenges to the supreme authority of the family's patriarch.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naguib Mahfouzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hutchins, William MaynardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenny, Lorne M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenny, Olive E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad closed the door behind him and crossed the courtyard of his house by the pale light of the stars.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385264682, Paperback)

The second volume of the highly acclaimed Cairo Trilogy from the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, Palace Of Desire is the unforgettable story of the violent clash between ideals and realities, dreams and desires.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:58 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Continuing the story of al-Sayyid Ahmad and his family, this is a fascinating look at Egypt in the 1920s. Increased personal freedoms mix tenuously with traditions of family control, as two of Ahmad's sons court alluring women. Sequel to "Palace walk" and second story in "The Cairo trilogy".… (more)

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