Naguib Mahfouz and influences from Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz seems to me to be an allegory of the condition in his Egyptian society with the same influences from the original Nights tales.  I like how the story starts with the Sultan awaking from his anger, realizing with guilt how many innocents he had killed.  I wonder why Mahfouz did this with the Sultan?  By making Shahrazade’s narration work, and changing the sultan’s mood in my opinion seems to weaken the nature of her narration.  It makes it less enticing.

I see the works of Mahfouz’s other novels here in Arabian Nights and Days.  Nuanced communication flows out of Shahazade’s lips describing the power in contemporary Egyptian Society.

The main allegory similar to the original Arabian Nights was the story of Sanaan al-Gamali and its allusion to politics.  In the story similar to the Merchant and the Demon as well as the Sinbad and Aladdin stories, Sanaan al-Gamali is trapped and must serve a demon.  When Sanaan awakes he realizes he has a large cut on his arm and that the dream he thought he had was actually a real encounter with a demon.  With Sanaan, Naguib Mahfouz illustrates the problems of corruption and sexual greed.  Sanaan rapes and kills a girl and then kills the governor to then which he is sentenced to death.  In this, I see satire and criticism of Shahrayr and larger Egyptian power, as Sanaan ultimately gets in trouble because he is poor, while the rich rulers of Egypt and Shahryar can get away with anything.


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