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Children of the Alley: A Novel by Naguib…
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Children of the Alley: A Novel (original 1959; edition 1996)

by Naguib Mahfouz

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Member:convivia
Title:Children of the Alley: A Novel
Authors:Naguib Mahfouz
Info:Anchor (1996), Edition: 1st Anchor Books Ed, Paperback, 464 pages
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Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz (1959)

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» See also 28 mentions

English (6)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
الرواية دى بذات مش عارفه اقييمها ولا اكتب عنها ريف​يو...قريتها زمان و هى محتاجة بالتاكيد لقراءة ثانية​

و بما ان كل كتب نجيب محفوظ متوفرة فى المكتبة العام​ة الا دى طبعالاسباب سياسية ...فالحل الوحيد هو الشر​
  Dina_Nabil | Mar 23, 2014 |
A really interesting concept, well-executed. (Nobel Prize winner, so go figure.) That concept was also a permanent distraction, however. Especially when the plot would deviate from the 'real' story. Although the deviations did at least keep it all from being totally predictable. For the second-to-last chapter, I know basically nothing about the theme, but even then I kept wondering which bits would be familiar if I did, and just generally felt guilty for knowing so little. Subplots involving supporting characters in that second-to-last section were clear just from current events, though. Really interesting look at another culture as well, since the issues of modern Egypt bled through. Brings up thoughts about how the story would go if written by someone in another -- any other -- country. ( )
  kristenn | Jan 10, 2010 |
See my review at Fiction Readings: Children of Gebelawi. ( )
  gefox | Jun 20, 2009 |
One of the most impressive books I have ever read. ( )
  brusselsbook | Dec 11, 2008 |
Revolution, specifically revolution thwarted, is a prominent theme of Naguib Mahfouz’s allegorical novel Children of the Alley (Awlad Haritna), which depicts the multi-generational struggle of the descendants of the patriarch Gabalawi against social, political, and economic injustice. Gabal, Rifaa, Qassem, and Arafa – become the leaders of four revolutionary movements – identifiable as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and science – that promise to usher in new eras of equality and prosperity. Despite the initial success of these movements, the gains of each are eventually overturned, giving rise to new beliefs and necessitating new revolutions. This process repeats itself with no end in sight.

In the stories of Gabal, Qassem, and Arafa, Mahfouz reveals how revolutionaries find it necessary to adopt the values they had intended to challenge in order to engage the enemy on equal terms. In such cases, these revolutions often fail to transform society because their tactics reinforce existing power structures even as their ideologies work to subvert them.

The story of Rifaa provides a very different perspective on the failure of revolution to achieve lasting change in the social and economic order. Having determined that the other revolutions failed to achieve justice because they were insufficiently transformative, one might expect that Rifaa’s revolution, which is, in many respects, the most transformative of any contained within the novel, would achieve a greater measure of success. However, it is precisely Rifaa’s refusal to adopt any of society’s dominant values that dooms his revolution. His revolution fails because it cannot provide individuals with a meaningful way to interact with the existing system in hopes of improving their condition within society.

The novel’s refrain that humans are cursed to forget the lessons of the past and forced to relearn them continually through hardship reveals a deeply pessimistic worldview that calls into question the very suggestion that injustice can be ameliorated through revolution against the existing order by individuals who are so enmeshed in this order that they personify its values even in rebellion.

I found this book depressing and rather fatalistic - are we doomed, no matter what we do? Although religion comes in for a drubbing, science does not necessarily come off looking any better, as the tools of modern science lead to modern warfare and killings on a scale never before seen.

The role of women in this novel was also somewhat disturbing, as they figure almost exclusively as the betrayers of great men or the teachers/mothers of men who convey incomplete knowledge that is only perfected when applied by the male revolutionaries.

But it was an interesting book and I enjoyed the writing style - the story worked as both a multi-generational human saga and as an allegory of human intellectual/religious history. ( )
4 vote fannyprice | Oct 25, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naguib Mahfouzprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385264739, Paperback)

There are nineteen works of fiction currently available in paperback from Anchor. Because of the many universal themes of Mahfouz's work, and the variety of titles from which one can choose, this guide has been designed to provide you with questions that can apply to any or all of the books by Mahfouz which you choose to read.   The questions offer new perspectives and context for your conversations. Although each of Mahfouz's novels is a unique reading experience, in an effort to guide you in making a selection, it is suggested that you might particularly be interested in one of the four following titles, each of which represents a different decade of his career: Palace Walk (1956), Midaq Alley (1966), The Harafish (1977), and The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (1983).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The tale of a Mafia-like don in Egypt. He lives in a mansion in Cairo, uphill at the end of an alley whose inhabitants he exploits. He is the patriarch of a large family whose wealth comes from dealing in drugs and various protection rackets. While family members jockey for power, the people below live in squalor, dreaming of the revolutionary heroes their poverty produced. An expose of injustice in Egypt by a Nobel Prize winner and author of 30 novels.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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