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The Early Mubarak Years 1982-1988

The Early Mubarak Years 1982-1988


The Non-Fiction Writing of Naguib Mahfouz Volume III

by Naguib Mahfouz

translated by Russell Harris

introduction by Rasheed El-Enany

Hbk, Royal
February 2020

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This volume consists of essays published in newspapers between 1982 and 1988, coinciding with the early years of Hosni Mubarak’s presidency described by Mahfouz as an ‘unhurried democracy’. Mahfouz’s exceptional humanity is most prominent in the careful attention he pays to the daily challenges faced by Egyptians. The writing presented here reveals his remarkable insight into the country’s political and social issues, as well as pragmatic capacity to see the bigger picture, particularly when it comes to the role of Egypt in the Arab world. A recurring theme in the majority of the essays is Mahfouz’s perseverance in insisting, despite hardships, on tolerance and justice, on peaceful coexistence, on the maintenance of work ethics, on the importance of cultural education, and the merits of democracy.

Naguib Mahfouz was the most important Arab writer of his generation. He was the winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. Russell Harris is an established translator of literary works from French and Arabic. Rasheed El-Enany is Professor Emeritus of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Exeter.

This is the third in a series of Naguib Mahfouz’s non-fiction writings, published for the first time in English translation by Gingko. Click here to view the first, second (1974-1981) and fourth (1989-1994) volumes.


Introduction by Rasheed El-Enany

Substandard Food in an Age of Discipline

Defamation of the Country

Indifference and Education

The Forbidden Opposition

Behaviour Appropriate for Our Lives

The Democracy of Labour

The Debt Fund

Lessons from Deceased Leaders

how Should We Deal with Deviation?

The People of the Cave Wake up

A Small Nation in a World of Giants

The Task of the Centre

Withdrawal Celebrations

After the Withdrawal

The Army of War and Peace

On the Issue of Change

On the Egypt of Tomorrow Conference

When Will Change Begin?

Political Activity as the Harbinger of Good

The Return of Administrative Control

Opposition Newspapers

The bitter Truth

Towards a New five-Year Plan

An ongoing Period of Trial… and a New Dawn

The July Revolution

Ramadan – Should it be Serious or Fun?

Who are We?

Ten People Who have Not Received Any Good News

The Youth Also Have a Literary Problem

The Role of Culture in our Rebirth

The Egyptian Path and the Age of Productivity

The Egyptian Way… and National Mobilisation?

The Arab Way

How Can We Confront Life?

The Value of an individual and Civilisation

Democracy and the Ethics of Leadership

Indifference… and Performance

Indifference… and the Army 52 Social Justice

The Real Criminal

Your Voting Slip 55 The Giza Drain Told Me…

The other Side of the Moon

Signs of a New Age

Good Tidings

Studies of the National Councils

Welcoming the New Masses

Making Donations to Pay off our Debts

What a Neutral Ministry Cannot Do

When Will We Learn the Value of Time?

A Relative, Not an absolute, Majority

What Does Israel Mean?

The Message of the Conference

A Return to the Discussion of Debts

A Stand on Corruption

The Lesson of Oil

In What State has the Festival Returned?

On the Opposition

Wielding Some Legal Clout

About a Higher Aim

The Desired Wisdom

The Minister and the Opposition

The Privilege Disease

Signs of the Value of the individual

5 June

A New Year of Development

Our Scientific Expertise and Development

The July Revolution

We are Not Unaware of Our Faults… But!

More Cars

The Unreasonable War

Conflict and Civilisation

The Benchmark of Civilisation

The Ministry of Wealth

Looking for the Missing Money


A New Censorship Law

Thought and Freedom 1

6 October

The Police in the Service of Democracy

Television and the Cinema

The Etiquette and Conventions of Catastrophes

On the Emergency Law

What Does Experience Tell us?

Arab Considerations

The Minister of Culture Said…

The Hope That Remains

A Golden Age of Culture

The Crisis of Literature

The State Media and Culture

Martyrs of the Pen

The Crisis of Thought

Between the Cause and the Aim

A Campaign guide for the Citizen

In Defence of the Five-Year Plan and the General Public

For an Honest Battle

Catastrophes and Us!

Towering Intellects

A Multi-Party System

The Trust of the People

On the Generation Argument

A Serious Campaign in a Serious Period

The Cause of Art

A Renewal of Interest

The Election Campaign and the Revolution

The Parliament We are Waiting For

A New Age

A Word to Our Youth

A Word to the Wafd Party

A Small Nation Among Giants

The Party Platforms and Our Youth

Look in Anger at Reality

Between Culture and Development

In Defence of higher Values

The July Revolution

The Return of the giants

Those without a Sense of Belonging

Democratic Demands

The State Radio, Television and Culture

23 August

The First Aim

The Minister of the Interior Begins the Battle

We have the Power

The Media and the New Class

6 October

6 October

Our Lives

A Good Start

Support for a Society of Freedom and Justice

What a Political Party Means

Decisive Years

‘13 November’

The National Democratic Party and Culture

The Ministry and the Festival

The Majority Party

Party and Development

Back to the Electoral Law

Culture Between Criticism and Anger

Mass Suicide

The High Dam and the Necessary Conference

The Nile and the Law

The Day of the Police

B Book Display in Every Home

Execution and Life Imprisonment

The Case of Dr Ahmed

The Master of the Cause

Civilisation and the Holes in the Road

An Era of Rationalism

Art and Censorship

Crime Between Punishment and Cure

The Third Way

A Frenzied Crime

A Return to Language

Blossoms on the Path of Patience

Our Real Wealth

The Long-Lasting Case

A Day of Wisdom

The Peace Track

A Wonderful Movement

Independence in Jungle Life

The Spectator’s Confusion

The Missing Constitution

A Revolution and a Lesson

Rationalising Rationalisation

An abstruse Problem

The battle of Freedom and Civilisation

Literature and Politics

The opposition Between Tradition and Renewal

Between Awakening and Deviation

23 August

The Necessity of Culture

The Unretouched Picture

A Cure for all Eras

The Role of the State

A five-Year Plan Which Never Stops

Can the Reward for Murder be anything other Than Death?

Towards a New Citizen

Parliament and the Media

Between Two Eras

The Coming Years of Hard Work

Confrontation Without Hesitation

A Discussion About the Future

No Love from one Party

Between Reality and Dream

Arab Nationalism Between Reality and Dream

Towards a New Arab Unity

The Truth about Suleiman Khater

Democracy Between the Opposition and the Government

The Opposition’s Message

The Direction of Democracy

Crisis… Strengthen and be Gone!

A Violent Battle

The Five Commandments

Stability, Development and Humankind

A Soap Opera of Suffering, Sabotage and Arson

Who Engineered the Events of 25 February?

Ever in the Service of the People

Directness Between the Government and the Opposition

Facing the Facts 300 Development and Social Peace

May Day

Religious Education

The Most Beautiful of Times

On the Question of Ethics

5 June 311 Values Fit for All Times and Places

On the Question of Change

Why Subsidies… and Why Education?

Towards an Ethical Plan

The Present Between Anger and Perfection

The Occasion of the 23 July 1952 Revolution

We are Not a Nation Without an Aim

The Role of the People

Towards the other Shore

Democracy is Wonderful Despite its Errors

In Commemoration of the 1919 Revolution

Good Government

Our True Wealth

The National Democratic Party and Our Youth

Opinion, Experience and Consultation

One Crisis Should Suffice!

6 October

A Day of the People

The Responsibility of the Majority

The State and Culture

Medicine for More than one Disease

Africa and Internationalism

A New government

Welcome to Parliament

The Opposition

Exam Month

What We Should Remember

A Conversation in English

Science in Language Schools

On the Electoral Law

Towards a New Ethics and New Traditions

A New World 365 The islamic Conference

Another Path to Glory

It is People Who Make Civilisation

A New Era

Electoral Fraud

The Festival

The Constitutionality of the New Parliament

A Word to the Confused

What Will Tomorrow Tell us?

The hidden Disease

The New Parliament

Public holiday and Remembrance

The human Resources Conference

The People and the Battle

The Flood and the Ark

The Dark Side of the Moon

Hidden Evil

Democracy and the Battle

The Greatest Problem

Disease Spreads to the Core

Towards a New future

Terrorism and Stability

A Wise and Just Decision

A New Five-Year Plan

The Revolution of 23 July

Between Suicide and Famine

The Meaning of Stability

The Sun Will Rise Again

In Commemoration of the 1919 Revolution – Again

Unifying the Two Sectors

Cultural Hopes



6 October and the Best of Memories

And Nothing is being Said about Culture

Axioms of the Revolution

MPs’ Opinions and Their Wishes

The Desired Awareness

Anticipated Hopes

Author, Thinker, Fighter

Democracy is a National Programme

The Fight

The Modern Age

Unity is Our Cornerstone

The Rule of Law 435 a War on Two Fronts

The Era of Truth and Reality

Society and the Youth

A New Year

Thoughts on the Smuggled Billions

The Blood of the Revolutionaries

On Productivity

The age of Science and Scientists

The Map of our Youth

The Concerns of Today and Tomorrow

Political Reform


Identity and Aim

Culture and the State

Towards National Solidarity

The Long-awaited Mahdi

The Confessional

Political aiDS

The Road to Peace

On Religious Education

The Key to Reform

Praying for Rain

Between the Ebb and Flow

A Naïve Question

Religion in the Modern Age

Between the Sacred and the Profane

Between Extinction and Survival

Egypt’s Role

The Man of the Hour

The Revolution of 23 July – Again

A Call to Life

Remembering the Dead

The Trust Borne by People

Behaviour in Hard Times

Forgotten Honours

How Do We Face the Enemy?

Between Confrontation and Flight

The Explosion

Dream and Reality

The Day of Victory and Peace

A Word Amid All the Hubbub

Respectable but Criminal

Climbing out of the Animal’s Jaws

Culture and Life



Indifference and Education

Education is a highly efficient force which leaves a deep imprint on us. it is responsible for the shaping the citizen from his formative years. You might not have forgotten the fuss which has lately been pervading the educational establishment and the national councils around the issue of ‘the Egyptian human-being’ and the reforming of his personality, but has this been translated into educational action in our schools? in our heritage we have the healthy seeds which can help provide a decent form of education and which can be used to mould a youngster into the model demanded by our times, and for that we need to inculcate in our youth a love of the homeland, the veneration of work, a love of science and knowledge, a passion for discovery and invention and an openness toward other beliefs and religions. it is fortuitous that we can use our fount of religion and enlightened religious thought with its sounds, texts and faithful historical reports to help and motivate this shaping of our youth. how wonderful when the requirements of the religious and the mundane come together, when thought, science, the work ethos and the other foundations of modern civilisation become religious duties and steer people towards guidance and piety, when the believer can be a symbol of the renewal of civilisation with his religion neither holding him back nor causing him to deviate from his lofty humanistic aims. Religion can be the symbol of the decent working man with an honest conscience who writes what he wants to write, who loves those who agree and collaborate with him just as he should love and collaborate with those who disagree with him provided this is based on mutual respect and within the framework of human rights. We can state that the effects of education are not seen overnight, but they stay implanted and become passed on to the next generations.