Libmonster ID: UK-1376

M. NASR AL-GIBALI

Candidate of Philological Sciences

King Saud University, KSA

Ain Shams University, Egypt

Keywords: contemporary Egyptian fiction, Yusuf Zeidan, The Nabataean novel, Islam

Modern Egyptian writer and philosopher Yusuf Zeidan was born on June 30, 1956. In 1980, he graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Alexandria. In 1989, he defended his dissertation on philosophical sciences, and ten years later received the title of professor. Since 1994, he has been leading the study of cultural heritage in the Department of Rare Manuscripts at the Library of Alexandria. He has published more than 600 scientific articles on the problems of the Arab spiritual heritage, Christian symbolism in poetry, and the problems of covering philosophical issues in literary works. In 2009, Y. Zeidan became the winner of the prestigious Arab Booker Prize for Arabic Fiction in the Middle East1.

His novel "Azazel" has been widely published worldwide and has been published in 20 languages. Translation into Russian was carried out for the first time by the author of this article together with P. G. Gulkin, an orientalist, Arabist, executive editor of the expert information platform Arafnews.ru. In 2013, the novel had a circulation of 2.5 thousand copies. ex. it was published by the Russian book publishing house "Astrel". By popularity of Yu. Today, Zeidan is compared to the modern American writer Dan Brown, the author of the intellectual detective stories "The Da Vinci Code", "Angels and Demons" and others.

As for his other novel, The Nabataean, it is very popular in Arab countries and has been reprinted several times. The interest in this work is primarily due to the relevance of the problems raised in it and, of course, the high artistic skill of the author.

The Nabataean is a novel in three parts. It takes place at a critical time for the Middle East and the entire world, at the beginning of the seventh century, when a new world religion, Islam, is emerging in the Arabian Peninsula. This period turned the course of world history in a different way, when a new strong state-empire emerged - the Arab Caliphate.

The novel is based on the life story of the Egyptian Coptic Mary. The main character married a Nabataean Arab Salama and went with him to the lands of the Nabataeans, which were located on the territory of the former Nabataea (Nabataean Kingdom)2. The author was able to vividly reveal the inner world of the heroine-a girl who left her home in Egypt and went into the unknown with her new family.

The three parts of the novel correspond to the three stages of Maria's life. First Life tells the story of her birth family in a small, impoverished Egyptian village in the Nile Delta. "Second Life" is dedicated to Mary's journey with an Arab caravan to her husband's native land. For the first time in her life, Maria finds herself outside her village, and the world appears to her in a new light. Along the way, she sees new lands, nomadic Arabs and gradually gets used to her new relatives. The Third Life shows the life and home of the main character, who already lives with the Nabataeans.

According to the artistic plan, the closest person for Maria was her husband's younger brother. This man's name was Nabataean. One of the plot lines in the novel is the story of Mary's unhappy love for a Nabataean who has the gift of prophecy. It was he who was responsible for her education and taught her Arabic.

The story of the life of Maria and her family is presented in the novel against the background of important historical events that influenced the fate of each of them. The storyline reflects the ongoing wars between Byzantium and Sasanian Iran, the emergence of Islam, and the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs. Maria, who was born a Yakovite Christian, accepts Islam, as does her husband and most of her relatives.

The novel is of particular interest to those who are interested in the relationship of religions, their origin, since the theme of religion, its social role and influence on the life of an individual is one of the main ones in this work. His heroes are pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims of the early seventh century.

"Nabataean" is a work that forces the modern reader to take a deeper look at the events taking place in the world, already in our time. For the first time, this novel was translated from Arabic into Russian by the author of this article and a graduate student of St. Petersburg State University, V. I. Kunkova.

We offer readers the first chapter of the novel (in abridgment).

page 71


1 Jaiza booker al-Arabiya li Azazel al-riwaiyi al-mysri Yusuf Zeidan (the Arab Booker Prize was awarded to the Arab writer Yusuf Zeidan for the novel "Azazel") / / Asharq al Awsat, 17.03.2009 - http://classic.aawsat.com/details.asp?issueno-10992& article=511235#.VHoOostxleV

2 From about the second century BC, the Nabataean kingdom encompassed vast territories from the Sinai Peninsula in the southwest to Damascus in the north, including the southern and central parts of what is now Jordan, the northwest of what is now Saudi Arabia, and parts of what are now Israel and Syria. Beginning in the fourth century AD, Nabataea dissolved into the Christian world of the Byzantine Middle East and went down in history with the beginning of the Arab-Muslim conquests. Traces of the Nabataean civilization are magnificent monuments of the city of Petra and the ruins of desert cities-Avdat, Shivty, Mamshit, Nice, etc. (approx. author's note).


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