A Critical Study of Mahfouz’s Representation of the Oppressed ‘Intellectual’ During the ‘Nasserite Experiment’


An intellectual can be defined as "someone able to speak the truth, a courageous and angry individual for whom no worldly power is too big and imposing to be criticized and pointedly taken to task. The real or “true” intellectual is therefore always an outsider, living in self-imposed exile, and on the margins of society. He or she speaks to, as well as for, a public, necessarily in public, and is properly on the side of the dispossessed, the un-represented and the forgotten" (Said 1994). One must examine such definition critically especially within the context of the deformed outcome of the intellectual's dilemma during the 'Nasseritte experiment'. In Nasser's Egypt, the intellectuals have been seriously marginalized as a result of lack of trust which Nasser primarily depended on for his regime's sustainability (Abdullah 2001).The unsurpassed oppressive tactics of discipline some of the intellectuals faced, led to an internalization of oppression, and thus a blurring of the Saidian concept of a 'true' intellectual. The study examines selected primary works of Mahfouz including The Thief and the Dogs, The Beggar, Road, Adrift on the Nile, and Miramar, focusing on the depiction of the intellectual illustrated in different character portrayals in the sixties, exemplifying the different reactions of the selected characters to the ‘crisis’ and the dissimilar transformations each has endured to adapt or reject such oppression. One must note that the above-mentioned oppression was not solely derived from the state, but also includes societal oppression, majority leading to self-imposed exile.

Author Information
Alaa Amr Saad, American University in Cairo, Egypt

Paper Information
Conference: LibEuro2015
Stream: Literature - Arabic/Middle Eastern Literature

This paper is part of the LibEuro2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon