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The Time & The Place (Naguib Mahfouz)

This study will provide a critique of The Time and the Place, a collection of stories by Egyptian Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz. The critique will focus on an analysis of the main themes of the book, which center around the difference between the hopes and expectations of people, and the way life really is. Almost every story in the book focuses on this difference between the ideal and the real. Several stories have some mystery at their center, and the characters confronting those mysteries are often left puzzled and confused at the end. If there is a single message behind this theme, it is that life remains a mystery when all is said and done.

The book cannot be said to be social or political criticism, for Mahfouz seems to have accepted that life is way beyond the control of social, economic, political, or other governmental organizations. In one story, "Fear," the narrator says, "Everything around them convinced them that violence was stronger than the government" (142). The "violence" refers to a war between two armies, but it can be seen as also referring to the violence done to human hopes and expectations by the mysterious forces at work behind the scenes. In any case, it is very clear that Mahfouz is not concerned with trying to change the government or socioeconomic conditions in Egypt. The reader always has the feeling that the author has accepted the hard and confusing lot that human beings have in life---whether they are Egyptians or not. There are many references to Islam, the religion of Egypt, but God or Allah is not an escape for the characters of Mahfouz's stories. There is also much talk about miracles, but these miracles never bring happy endings to the stories. In "A Long-Term Plan," for example, a man who has lived the life of a selfish bum suddenly comes into a great deal of money. He splurges on a night of dining, returns to his hotel, and apparently dies, thinking, "Why, then, had this miracle taken ...

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The Time & The Place (Naguib Mahfouz). (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 12:51, April 26, 2019, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1690019.html