Desire and Denial: Sacred and Profane Spaces in ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd Jawdat al-Saḥḥār's Novel "In the Caravan of Time"

  • Christian Szyska


Throughout the 20th century contributions of Egyptian writers have been instrumental in the processes of mapping, or remapping, the world. Through their writings they have contributed to the production of rural, urban, and national spaces. This paper scrutinizes the narrated spaces in ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd Jawdat al-Saḥḥār’s realist novel In the Caravan of Time. The study analyses the position of al-Saḥḥār’s work within Egyptian literary discourse. Drawing on anthropological theories, it shows how the novel’s protagonist experiences the  negotiation of spaces and their boundaries during the transition to modernity. Furthermore the study demonstrates that this transition takes on the form of an initiation of which the underlying force is desire. It turns out that desire and its repression are essential factors which contribute both to the redefinition of the self and the Other and to the remapping of the world.