Orientalizing the female protagonist in Mahfouz's Midaq Alley

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    Within the contours of contemporary feminist theory, this paper aims to undermine critical allegations assuming that Naguib Mahfouz is an anti-patriarchal novelist introducing a "balanced view" of the feminine/masculine nexus in his novels. This paper provides a new reading of Midaq Alley, Mahfouz's celebrated novel, to uncover the hidden patriarchal ideology underpinning the narrative. Located in the intersectional discourses of hegemony and patriarchy, Mahfouz's narrative aims to distort the identity of the female protagonist by transforming her into a rebellious whore dismantling the foundations of a patriarchal society. On this basis, the novel promotes the masculine narrative advocated by the domineering patriarchal community. By denouncing the justified rebellion of the marginalized protagonist against male brutalities, the author views the powerless female subaltern as a transgressor of domestic traditions. Instead of exploring the spaces - what feminist critics call silences - that exist in domestic collective memory with regard to women, Mahfouz portrays his female protagonist in a way which complies with indigenous patriarchal norms about women. Instead of dealing with Hamida, the female protagonist of the novel, as a victim of a patriarchal society regulated by masculine cultural constructs, the author stresses masculinity and macho conviviality, providing little space for the projection of the female counternarrative.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)568-588
    Number of pages21
    JournalForum for World Literature Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


    • Brutalities
    • Feminist
    • Mahfouz
    • Narrative
    • Oriental
    • Patriarchy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Literature and Literary Theory


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