Three Ancient Egyptian Novels

Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War

Naguib Mahfouz

This paperback compendium edition combines Naguib Mahfouz’s first three novels, all set in ancient Egypt, which skillfully explore recurring themes

English edition
568 pp.
15X23cm
ISBN 9789774166297
For sale only in the Middle East

$19.95

This paperback compendium edition combines Naguib Mahfouz’s first three novels, all set in ancient Egypt, which skillfully explore recurring themes within human relationships: the balance between destiny and individual agency, the sanctity of the bonds to the land and religion, and the constant power struggles that affect human lives at multiple levels. In Khufu’s Wisdom, translated by Raymond Stock, Pharaoh Khufu is battling the Fates. At stake is the inheritance of Egypt’s throne, the proud but tender heart of Khufu’s beautiful daughter Princess Meresankh, and Khufu’s legacy as a sage, not savage, ruler. Rhadopis of Nubia, translated by Anthony Calderbank, follows the powerful love that grows between Rhadopis, a courtesan whose ravishing beauty is unmatched in time or place, and youthful, headstrong Pharaoh Merenra, worshiped by his people as a divine presence on earth, against the background of the high politics of Sixth Dynasty Egypt. Finally, in Thebes at War, translated by Humphrey Davies and written in 1937–1938 when Britain and Turkey held sway over Egypt, Mahfouz dramatically depicts the Egyptian people’s undying loyalty to their land and religion and their refusal to bow to outside domination. After two hundred years of occupation, the Hyksos leader in his capital in northern Egypt tells Pharaoh in the south that the roaring of the sacred hippopotami at Thebes is keeping him awake at night and demands that they be killed, galvanizing Egypt into hurling its armies into a struggle to drive the barbarians from its sacred soil forever.

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Kay Heikkinen holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, where she first became interested in Arabic history, language, and literature. She has taught medieval history and literature as well as Islamic civilization, and currently teaches Arabic at the University of Chicago.  
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