a1 Beit Berl College, 44905 Kfar Saba, Israel.
The writings of the Egyptian novelist Najib Mahfuz (b. 1911) in the 1960s illustrate the new literary trends that were then emerging in Arabic fiction. Among his works, the volume of short stories, Dunyā Allāh (God's World, 1963), was the first and perhaps the most important collection within the corpus of his creative works. These short stories are striking for the themes they pursue and the poetic universe they depict, and they reveal in particular his and the Egyptian reaction to progress. In this essay only one of these short stories, “Zabalāwī,” will be discussed. My aim is to show Mahfuz's adept manipulation of mythic themes together with specific Egyptian cultural and Islamic elements in his exploration of the dilemma modernity poses for Egyptian society. “Zabalāwī” was published at the beginning of a new period in his creative development when Mahfuz had begun to pursue his concerns using new and innovative literary techniques.