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The Beggar: Al Shahad
Naguib Mahfouz
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The Beggar: Al Shahad

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,818 ratings  ·  587 reviews
A complex tale of alienation and despair. Unable  to achieve psychological renewal in the aftermath  of Nasser's revolution, a man sacrifices his work  and family to a series of illicit love affairs  that intensify his feelings of estrangement. A  passionate outcry against irrelevance.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published December 1st 1985 by International Book Centre (first published 1965)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
الشحاذ = The Beggar, Naguib Mahfouz

The Beggar is a 1965 novella by Naguib Mahfouz about the failure to find meaning in existence. It is set in post-revolutionary Cairo during the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The book opens with the main character Omar, going to visit a doctor, who was one of his friends from his youth, because he has become sick of life. The doctor tells him that there is nothing physically wrong with him, and tells him that he won’t be ill if he goes on a diet and takes regular
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Beggar has revealed itself to be a necessary book for me. Especially for the week I just experienced. There was much more doubt and despair on tap than any ennui. The protagonist of this novella suffers from an “illness “. He no longer finds anything to have meaning, nothing elicits feeling. He is a wealthy Cairo attorney and he is simply indifferent. There is a jagged stream of consciousness throughout this disturbing narrative. The protagonist’s condition is a stand-in for the Egyptian Rev ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
While this probably should not have been my first Mahfouz, I found it interesting. There is an introduction in this edition that says his well-known Cairo Trilogy was produced at an entirely different period in the author's life, but, perhaps more importantly, in a different period in Egypt's history. The Beggar was one of a group of seven novels published in the aftermath of the 1952 Revolution.

The main character, Omar Bey, was one of a group who tried to effect change during the reign of King
Mira Tabsh
I read this at school years ago:). I cannot recall all the details but I remember very well the gist of the story "being morally poor can be worse than being financially broke."
Mental health issues in 1960s Egypt.

So, my initial thoughts prior to the discussion in two days time:
This book is about a guy who is having some sort of a break-down. If it happened in this day and age he would be considering going to a shrink rather than a GP, he certainly had the money to do so.
Apparently there are a lot of political allegories and this is what I hope will be clarified at the book group as I don't know a lot about Egyptian politics at the time.
I really felt for his friend Otho
Rating: 3.0/5.0

The story is decent. It is about Omar a middle aged man who suffers from mental health issues and anxiety which causes him lots of pain and trouble in his relationships with his family and friends. His main question is why do we have to live if god is going to take us one day! The book has lots of philosophical stuff going on for it and many people have said they are actually the author's questioning of human being's existence and purpose of living. Questions like whether there is
Amazing. Amazing. Amazing!!

[Spoiler Alert]

You'd imagine a successful man having his life slowly being destroyed, dismantled, and despaired, due to maybe lust, or envy, or maybe having being friends with the bad company, or drugs, would be a predictable situation; and that would be true for most people who were in such a situation, perhaps, but not Mr. Omar. Mr. Omar found his soul in a desolated wasteland filled with colours, now bleak, now lifeless, now godless, thanks to his existential anxiet
Salam Almahi
It's a no for me.
Rami Hamze
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, arabic
Omar is a middle-aged successful lawyer with a loving family. Amidst absurdity, he is in constant search for purpose and answers for life, death, and god. He is sick of his success, his work and even his family; while the only way is science, he realizes he is not a scientist and thus too late to find answers, so he seeks nothingness and attempts to escape from the endless cosmic prison.

Good short novel by Mahfouz who seems to be the subject of my next deep dive exploration.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Camus has nothing on this very small book. I'm reading it again after 13 years or so. Loved it the first time even when bits of it flew over my head. Rediscovering it now. For giggles, download the movie featuring Mahmoud Morsi as Omar! :)
Chet Herbert
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my most favorite dystopic novels. Tragic, lyrical, thought-provoking; a mesmerizing spiral into despair and self-loathing as a consequence of violated ideals. Reminiscent of Camus and Kafka. Naguib Mahfouz is far too neglected in Western Literature.
Hossam Yehia
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only meaning for life is within living it, I really enjoyed it
A search for inner peace! Is it in family, in friends, in job, in wealth! Why people tend to look for things that they don’t have, while they have almost everything!
When someone has a family, best friends, good job, wealth but still not happy, still can’t find his self-worth, his purpose in life so he lives in misery, maybe because God was not in his equation for happiness? But is there a God! And how could he realize the truth about god!

ألا تخاف الوحشة في الخلاء؟
-أرهقتني الوحشة في الزحام.

هل فك
Wafa Khan
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me sad as it is an accurate but a difficult to solve problem. A feeling of semi-completeness, desire to find some truth that is higher and more meaningful than ones current life, and savage willingness to abandon one's relationships and duties in order to find this higher truth. The protagonist has a good life with a devoted family, good career as a lawyer, and a close friendship. But this happiness seems two-dimensional rather than a real reality, and his heart is restless whilst ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Well, I've missed the way. I turned from art to a profession which is also dying...I can't master the new art, as you have done, and like you, I failed to study science. How can I find the lost ecstasy of creation?" (p. 45).

"Shaking his head sorrowfully, he said, 'My misfortune may be that I'm searching for an equation without scientific qualifications.' Mustapha laughed. 'And since there's no revelation in our age, people like you can only go begging'" (p. 66).

"He hasn't yet discovered that tr
Lamski Kikita
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arabic Lit fans
Recommended to Lamski Kikita by: my aunt
An early work of Mahfouz', it is certainly not his very best.

The story of Omar, a former revolutionary in the pre-Nasser times, who after years of doing the business of living and forgetting his idealism, loses interest in life.

In extremely poetic pages, Naguib explores Omar's mind, and his pathetic- and may i add, typical of the middle eastern man's lamest excuses to leave their homes and run after women- affairs with multiple women, trying to find his way back into reality.

Favorite quote: "we
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Cox
Perhaps Naguib Majfouz can be considered the existentialist Albert Camus of Egypt? If so, this book might best exemplify that status. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is Mustapha's late-night ride on the Pyramids Road. Upon sunrise, Mustapha discovers the ecstatic nature of belonging to the universe, even rising above it. What does this mean as for as his existence? Also challenging are the final refrains, "I sighed wearily and opened my eyes. This dream could only mean that I've not yet e ...more
Well, the protagonist, Omar, failed to figure out what when went wrong. I am telling you, neither could I! Was he a philander and his peculiar alienation merely a covert psychological defense mechanism of his ego? I don’t think so but don’t ask me what it was because I cannot tell. I tried to relate the whole phenomenon to his being a revolutionary and what happened after the Egyptian revolution of 1952 but my efforts were to no avail. Enlightenment in this regard is certainly more than welcome!
Sonia Francis
Naguib Mahfouz owns the title of a Nobel prize in literature. His words are exquisitely chosen and every sentence makes you pause.
This novella has a unique narration. Flashbacks, meditative, dreamy. Omar, the protagonists has a restless soul; alienates his family and goes from one affair to the other to soothe his despair, but to no avail. His estrangement intensifies at every step.
Omar is a poet, but instead of writing poetry, he chooses to live his art by engaging in love affairs. Masterful
Relatively brief, gorgeous novel about despair and disconnection. I wish I still owned this one. It really spoke to me when I read it for a college comparative religions class, perhaps because I was in the throes of my own crisis of belief at the time, one that has never truly resolved even 15 years later.

I may have to purchase this to re-read, and pick up some other works by Mahfouz.
Jun 12, 2009 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Supposed to be about bourgeois ennui. Middle-aged Egyptian man attempts to justify his failures with two affairs and a crapload of blathering about how 20th-century art is the same as amusement. At least it is short.
Inès Hajri
I didn't like the book, and I didn't understand it. Yet, it was an interesting read. All along I wished that Omar got his shit together instead of being such a clueless, coldhearted, and sadist character. I'm happy that I finished reading it.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
My least favorite by this author.
May 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An ex-revolutionary has a midlife crisis. Only Mahfouz's talent can make a subject like this worthwhile reading.
Zainab Bakry
Jan 25, 2011 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zainab by: Seera Akra
Omer is a guy who has everything of everything, but he finds that he's sick of life.

It's interesting, definitely. But a bit too Arabic. Ending? VAGUE!
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We're fools to think of ourselves as stranger than others."

A desperate plea against irrelevance.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story of a older man's identity crisis. 6
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Started slow; finished fast! Love this author!
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مقدمه‌ی کتاب 2 25 Jul 03, 2014 02:32PM  
حلقة قراء محفوظ N...: الشحاذ - اكتوبر 2012 11 104 Oct 27, 2012 02:10AM  

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Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic author profile: نجيب محفوظ) was an Egyptian writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He published over 50 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian and foreign films. ...more

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