Monday, September 2, 2013

"Conversations in the morning and afternoon"

I must admit that I have a problem writing about this book. On one hand it’s a novel of manners, on the other – sort of biographical dictionary. The novel by Naguib Mahfouz „Conversas de manhã e de tarde” tells the story of three Cairene families throughout nearly two centuries, focusing on one person in each chapter.

Egipcian, Naguib Mahfouz, was born in 1911, died in 2006. He studied philosophy and history of art at the King Fouad I University (now the University of Cairo). He debuted in 1938 with short stories “Whisper of Madness”. Next year he published his first novel “Mockery of the Fates”.
He won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. Author of the socio-moral novels, short stories, movie scripts, plays and many press articles.
Conversas de manhã e de tarde” is one of the books I bought while staying in Lisbon last June. Apart from the joy of reading it was also an opportunity to enrich my Portuguese vocabulary.
The book is written in an easy and pleasant language, without unnecessary frills and linguistic acrobatics. It depicts in a factual and highly readable way the life of three families. There are intertwined here, on one hand the concerns of everyday life, quarrels between married couples, problems with fathers-in-law or children, but also socio-moral questions such as arranged marriages, withdrawal of women from work after getting married or a short girls’ education period, to some important political events like Napoleon’s army march or the crises which marked the XX century.
We learn about all these facts, customs and nuances not in the form of the scientific lecture but in a way we could listen about them while visiting friends or relatives. There will be those for whom it will be a positive side of this book, but for others – those who like dates, numbers and definitions – it will be only a completion of „serious” historical publications. Nevertheless, a completion worth reaching for…

„Conversas de manhã e de tarde”
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Translated into Portuguese by: Badr Hassanein
Publisher: Civilização Editora
Published: 2011
Pages: 204
This text is also available in Polish and Portuguese


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