Secrecy, Secularism, and the Coming Revolution in Naguib Mahfouz's Postwar Masterpieces (1952-1967)
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In the wake of the Egyptian revolution of 1952, Egypt's Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz turned to stories of corruption and alienation, initiatory underworlds of the revolution's political detractors drawn from an unlikely aesthetic combination of Hollywood Westerns, local mythology, and Nasserism. Today, his literature appears prophetic, providing a window onto the metaphysical connotations of democratization which, in Egypt, have long been haunted by the moral vacuousness of western style secularism and what Jürgen Habermas has described as the global "revitalization of religion" in the public sphere. Drawing on research conducted before and during the 2011 uprising in Egypt, this dissertation explores how one of the twentieth century's greatest writers aestheticized-- both through novels and through film-- the political transformations of his day and how his work might contribute to our understanding of the ongoing social transformations in the Middle East and beyond.