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Gordimer Talks on Mahfouz Novels

By Valerie J. Macmillan

Nadine Gordimer, this year's Norton lecturer, last night discussed the search for truth in the work of fellow Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz.

More than 450 people turned out to hear the lecture in Lowell Hall, titled "Zaabalawi: The Concealed Side."

Gordimer spoke on the plot and themes of Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street. Without the quest for truth, "life would be meaningless," Gordimer said.

"Only the truth, if we could find it, makes some sense of life," the author said. "Truth is our home. Truth is the final destination of the human spirit."

Gordimer said she was angry about the recent stabbing of Mahfouz by a member of a fundamentalist Muslim group. Some Muslims have publicly called him blasphemous because the characters in his novels criticize Islam.

"Mahfouz understood his world well enough to foresee the rise of Muslim fundamentalism, which has threatened a great religion...and would put a knife into his own neck," she said.

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