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Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by Nawal El…
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Memoirs of a Woman Doctor

by Nawal El Saadawi

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I ordered a stack of Nawal's books because I have never read anything written by an Egyptian woman and I am also a student of Egyptian Arabic, though I have known Egyptian people since 1980.

I did not know what to expect so went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprized at how much of a feminist she is. I heard she was rebellious and did not believe in arranged marriages, but she is so feminist that it could have been written by someone here in the States and I would not have known.

This book is a novel but mirrors her life as a young doctor, so is semi autobiographical. She is still alive, although I do not know if she is still writing as she is 86 now.

I look forward to reading more of her books ! ( )
  REINADECOPIAYPEGA | Jan 11, 2018 |
E Saadawi introduces her book, which is a very short account of growing up in Egypt, and training to be a doctor in the face of gender discrimination.
"The woman stands before the man, deprived by the world of her freedom, her honour, her name, her self respect, her true nature and her will. All control over her spiritual life has been taken from her"

The copy I had is a reprint, and El-Saadawi introduces the text saying that although she also is a trained doctor, and like the character in the book, became very successful, the book is not meant to be read as memoir.

Perhaps the most powerful section of the book are the early chapters, which deal with growing up. She describes feeling like a second-class citizen as a girl, unable to run and play as she wishes, to be careless of appearances: instead she has to ensure propriety is observed, her body is covered. "Everything in me was shameful and I was a child of just nine years old." Medical training gives her the power (in her own mind) to finally reject the view of herself as the inferior gender:
A vast new world opened up before me. At first I was apprehensive, but I soon plunged avidly into it, overwhelmed by a frenzied passion for knowledge. Science revealed the secrets of human existence to me and made nonsense of the huge differences which my mother had tried to construct between me and my brother
Originally the text was printed as articles in a newspaper, and the current edition is the version that had to pass the censors (the original being lost). Given the tone and critique I wonder what was censored. She is also critical of the medical profession, describing training students without care for patients, without acknowledgement of the limits of medical treatment. She acknowledges ultimately her problems with charging for healthcare when people are in poverty (dealing with a horrible case of TB). She alludes to helping a young girl who was raped (I think) have an abortion (this is left very vague), discusses leaving her first husband after he attempted to end her career.

Although told this is not a memoir, to me it reads as a passionately felt manifesto for gender equality and medical reform. ( )
  charl08 | Jan 30, 2015 |
Reviewer: Dhaval Vyas

In most societies in this world, it is a positive to be born a man. Being born a man will automatically give a person more chances in life than being a woman. 'Memoirs of a Woman Doctor' is the story of an Egyptian girl planning to become a doctor. She lives in a society where a woman's chances of climbing the socio-economic ladder are slim to none. Being the only woman in her medical school, she constantly tries to denegrate men and sometimes scolds humanity in general. She feels men are not the "Gods" that her mother thought they were. She tries to rationalize humanity, saying they are no better than animals. In all this time, she seems to have no attachment to humanity; all she seems to care about are her studies and her career. The ending of the book can be interperted in two ways. Some will feel it is a cop out (like I did) and others will feel she learned a very important lesson about this life. Nonetheless, it is a facinating read into the heart and mind of a smart, but frustrated woman living in a socitey dominated my males. ( )
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  gnewfry | Nov 24, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0872862232, Paperback)

A young Egyptian female medical student overcomes social hypocrisy and social injustice to become a caring and successful physician.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:48 -0400)

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