Midaq Alley the Central Character Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Of course, the geography of the Middle East was greatly influenced in the later Twentieth Century by the ongoing conflict between the Arab states and Israel. The creation of Israel itself in 1948 made the greatest change, and the British were involved in that struggle as well. The state of Israel was created in 1948 in a battle between the newly declared state and her Arab neighbors, ending in 1949 with armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Israel as a state developed out of the Palestinian question. When the British wanted to turn the state of Palestine over to the United Nations, a solution to the issue of what people would reside in Palestine was reached in the form of partition, after which Jerusalem would be made an international city in which there would be free access for worship in Christian, Islamic, and Jewish shrines and holy places. After this, Israel controlled half of Jerusalem. Displaced Palestinians lived in crude refugee camps; the remaining Palestinians lived within the territory the Israeli's had failed to capture.

Many elements of the states in these countries have been borrowed from the West, often during the period of British protection, leading to some resentment and to the fact that these institutions do not necessarily work as well in this context. The British tried to prevent the creation of Israel, then had to cope with the tensions created. The inability of the British to resolve the issues produced the geographic change as Palestine was shifted from the control of one country to another, leaving it in its current state of limbo as the Middle East conflict alters the political boundaries from time to time. The British today support Israel and American interests in the region, viewing from a distance many of the changes caused by earlier British actions and assisting in efforts such as the war in Iraq at the present time. Mahfouz in Midaq Alley looks back to the war period as showing the damage done by some aspects of Westernization and suggesting some of the reasons for the anti-Western reaction that has guided much of the Middle East since. A return to tradition has included a more fundamentalist bent in many of these countries, with the expulsion of Western influences seen as a restoration of the natural order and a recapturing of sovereignty. To a degree, these counties are trying to recapture aspects of Midaq Alley and the traditions it represented to avoid being prostituted the way Hamida is.

The major change since the time of this novel was the creation of Israel, and that remains the largest Western element imposed on the Middle East as far as many in that region are concerned. Peace has been almost impossible to achieve, and there are factions on both sides that do not want peace at all. What Mahfouz writes in this novel helps show some of the…

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Works Cited

Mahfouz, Naguib. Midaq Alley. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

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