Tawfiq Al-Hakim: A Reader’s Guide

by Hutchins, William Maynard

The works of Tawfiq al-Hakim (1898-1987), the prolific and influential Egyptian playwright, novelist, and essayist, are of course interesting because of al-Hakim’s artistic presentation of insights into the universal human condition. But they also record fertile collisions between religion and secularism, modern Arab society and ancient Greek thought, Paris, Cairo, and rural Egypt, despair and hope, men and women; in dizzyingly diverse formats, they celebrate an equally diverse range of subject. Al-Hakim dedicated much of his long life to a fruitful attempt to advance the fortunes of twentieth century Arabic literature by writing it. This guide to his work provides paths for readers through his multiple literary worlds. Chapters on his personal history, his novels, plays, short stories, and essays, and his Islamic feminism and his theology are enhanced by a discussion of reactions in the Arab world to his writing. The book also includes plot summaries, a chronology of al-Hakim’s life, and a comprehensive annotated bibliography of his oeuvre.