Critical Study of the Works of Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian Writer and Activist

Author: Royer, Diana
Year:2001
Pages:202
ISBN:0-7734-7538-9
978-0-7734-7538-0
Price:199.95
This volume sets El Saadawi’s literary work within the context of her activism, in particular showing how her ideas for the renewal of society run through her writing. As a companion for reading her fiction and nonfiction, this volume contextualizes her work by taking into consideration the complexities of Egyptian society today – in particular, Islamic fundamentalism and women’s status. It also introduces the current scholarly debate on ancient women’s status. Chapters on individual novels look both at technique (oral literary traditions, woman’s narrative, imagery) and topic (female circumcision, gender roles, prostitution, honor killing). Novels examined are Two Women in One; The Circling Song; Woman at Point Zero; God Dies By the Nile.

Reviews

“Royer provides one of the first book-length feminist analysis of the novels of Nawal Sa’dawi, a controversial and brilliant feminist writer and activist. She offers a sincere, at times confusing, effort to integrate cultural context and literary analysis of four of Sa’dawi’s novels. . . . Each chapter begins by connecting myth to politics and history, then goes on to discuss their relationship to the novel discussed. . . . Each chapter stands alone as an essay on a specific text. . . . Useful in all large academic collections supporting world literature and women’s studies classes, the book joins Fedwa Malti-Douglas’s Men, Women, and Gods (1995), which Royer does reference, on of the only other analyses of Sa’dawi’s fiction from a feminist perspective.” - CHOICE

“One of the most important figures in Third World feminism is the Egyptian physician and human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi. A founder of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, the Arab Association for Human Rights, and the Egyptian Women Writers’ Association, among other organizations, she has been threatened with death by terrorists and imprisoned on the one hand, while on the other hand winning international literary and human rights awards, serving as Director General of Public Health Education in Egypt, and teaching as a visiting professor at major universities worldwide. . . . Royer situates El Saadawi’s writings in their appropriate contexts, especially the history of Egypt and the place of women in Egyptian society. . . . Royer’s cross-cultural effort to find points in common for feminists echo those of El Saadawi herself. . . . she has succeeded in her purpose of explaining the profundity of El Saadawi’s thought and conveying the power and elegance of her writing.” – Prof. William Pencak, Penn State University

“. . . timely and important. . . Royer begins with two chapters of extremely useful and succinct background, followed by four chapters that focus on El Saadawi’s major novels, concluding with a discussion of El Saadawi’s place in the movement toward a global feminism. While Royer’s primary attention is devoted to El Saadawi’s major novels, Royer deftly intertwines references to El Saadawi’s more overtly political essays and to a 1998 interview Royer conducted with El Saadawi. . . . convincingly argues that western feminists need to attend to El Saadawi and the voices of other women who do not write in English or French. As a reader largely unfamiliar with El Saadawi and Egyptian literature, I feel I have been well educated by Royer’s work.” – Prof. Karyn Z. Sproles, James Madison University

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword
Preface: Nawal El Saadawi in the Context of Globalization by Josephine M. Carubia
Introduction
1. Modern Egypt
2. Ancient Egypt
3. Isis as Antidote: Two Women in One
4. Fusing Form and Content: The Circling Song
5. Writing the Savage Truth: Woman at Point Zero
6. The Peasant as Pawn: God Dies By the Nile
7. The Goddess and Global Feminism: some Connections Between Nawal El Saadawi and Virginia Woolf
Bibliography; Index