Cairo: «The Gulf»
Naguib Mahfouz has received the attention of critics in a way that a writer has not received in our time. His fictional world with its multiple levels, its diverse relationships, and its elusive symbols has always sparked an unending controversy and posed endless problems. After being neglected by critics for a long time, through a group of master’s and doctoral theses in Egyptian, Arab and foreign universities, and hundreds of articles and studies published in books and magazines.
“This abundance is negative,” as the late critic Syed Hamid Al-Nasaj described it, as the topics of letters and research began to be repeated, until the rulings became one, and transmission from others became easy and accessible, and there was no longer anything new in the vision and approach, or the method, and when referring to the titles of these researches and messages. Undergraduate notes that they differ only in the title only, or perhaps in changing some of the internal sub-titles, subjectivity here becomes sentimental there, or emotional, and romance you find in another study Marxist or socialist realism.
The study “The Structure of the Short Story by Naguib Mahfouz: A Study in Time and Space” by Muhammad Al-Sayed Muhammad Ibrahim is the first structural study that studies the narrative production of Naguib Mahfouz, in an attempt to identify his artistic development. Access to the laws governing the work from within it.
Despite this abundance, the narrative production of Naguib Mahfouz did not get his share of attention and study. Rather, it came fragmented in the form of partial studies that stop at some groups and not others, or stop at one or two stories or some stories, and then take this partial study as a base for issuing judgments It is based on self-taste and impression, away from the scientific methodology provided by modern and contemporary research methods.
This study deals with analysis and study of the structure of what Mahfouz produced from the short stories beginning in 1938 in the “Whisper of Madness” group until 1996, the year of the publication of the “The Last Decision” group. Considering these stories a stage of experimentation, there is no doubt that Naguib Mahfouz’s neglect of them by not including them in his collections of stories involves a critical view, as he does not see them as representative of his fictional creativity.
This becomes clear if we know that Naguib Mahfouz confessed, saying that he did not choose the stories of his first group, “Whisper of Madness” and that the one who made the choice was Abdel Hamid Gouda Al-Sahar. Al-Jadeeda and Al-Madaq Alley, and Abdel Hamid Gouda Al-Sahar came to tell me: Why not publish a collection of short stories? I told him: What group now it’s too late, and I did not write the short story with the aim of writing the short story.
Mahfouz mentions that he considers his production in the short story, the sixties, as nothing but summaries of old unpublished novels, as he says: “As for the short stories that I published before that, most of them were short stories, summaries of old unpublished novels, as for the short story I did not write it out of a real desire until later.”