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"Midaq Alley" by Naguib Mahfouz (Book Quotes)

  • Sep 15, 2010
The following are a list of quotes from Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz. They are from the edition with ISBN number 0-385-26476-3. They are listed chronologically and adhere to the Modern Language Association's (MLA) guidelines for quotes to the best of my ability minus the author's last name in the actual parenthetical citation. I have cataloged them under thematic concept and included an introduction sentence to the quote.
Radwan Hussainy is the spiritual conscience and advisor for the people of Midaq Alley. As the Imam, he offers solace and refuge to those who despair by encouraging a faith and trust in God:

All of life has beauty and taste, although the bitterness of an evil soul will pollute the most appetizing tastes. Believe me, pain brings joy, despair has its pleasure, and death teaches a lesson. How can we be bored when the sky is blue, the earth green, and the flowers fragrant? How can we be depressed when hearts have a capacity for love and our souls have the power of faith? Seek refuge from the devil in God and never say you are bored... (51-52)

Love splash
Hussainy explains that love is the cure for life's problems and that people should embrace its awesome power and wisdom: "'As for life's tradegies, our love will defeat them. Love is the most effective cure. In the crevices of disasters, happiness lies like a diamond in a mine, so let us instill in ourseleves the wisdom of love'" (52).
Human nature
In Midaq Alley, there is a compelling conversation about human nature and life between Zaita, an "evil" person, and Husniya, a neighbor's wife that Zaita lusts after: 

"You're a real devil! You talk like one and look like one too.'

Zaita sighed audibly and as though meekly seeking sympathy said, "Nevertheless, I was once upon a time a king."

"A king of devils?" she asked.

In the same tone of humility Zaita replied, "No, of mankind. Which of us is not at first welcomed into the world like a king of kings, to be later carried wherever ill foturne decrees. This is one of nature's wisest treacheries. Were it to show us first what is in store for us, we would all refuse to leave the womb." (132)

Although this line is hard to understand out of context, it struck me as very compelling. The conversation is between Hamida, the alley's beauty, and a mysterious stranger who has been stalking her (later revealed to be Ibrahim Faraji, a city pimp). Ibrahim lusts after Hamida, and he's not afraid to tell her so: "'God forgive you. Why are you angry? Aren't you on this earth to be taken? And I'm just the one to take you'" (167).
The final chapter of Midaq Alley reveals the mundane setting and story. Nothing occurred that was out of the ordinary, and after the drama subsided, life returned to its usual indifference:

This crisis too, like all the others, finally subsided and the alley returned to its usual state of indifference and forgetfulness. It continued, as was its custom, to weep in the morning when there was material for tears and resound with laughter in the evening. And in the time between, doors and windows would creak as they were opened and then creak again as they were closed. (284-85)

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October 28, 2010
Great quotes. I liked the last one the best. Everything returning to normal after the drama ends. That quote is very well written. Yeah, I'm very interested in reading this novel. It looks like a good one.
October 28, 2010
Yeah, the last one was my favorite too! Please do read the book and let me know what you think!
September 22, 2010
Very interesting list, like WP said really looking at 4.
September 28, 2010
Thanks for checking out the list, Alex. I hope to have the book review finished within the next day or two. It's funny how both you and Woo liked number 4. ;)
September 20, 2010
I dunno--I got my eyes stuck with # 4 LOL! that is funny.
September 28, 2010
LOL! Yeah, it caught my eye when reading...it was such a masculine thing to say, and it worked on the girl! I guess women really like men with confidence. :-P
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Adrianna Simone ()
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